Movie Review: ‘Thappad’

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Based on real life events, ‘Thappad’ is Anubhav Sinha’s latest offering after recent years of presenting films which have created a conversation and caused uproar. This film is no different and with Taapsee Pannu in the lead role, it promised right from the first trailer that it would be a talking point no matter what. However, does it prove to be as much that as a worthy film to make?

Amrita (Pannu) is a happy housewife, doing everything she can for her husband Vikram (Pavail Gulati). He’s getting ready to be transferred to London and she’s dreaming of their life there. However, when he finds out during a house party that his job has been given to someone else, he confronts his colleagues at the party himself. When Amrita steps in to make him move away from his colleagues, he ends up slapping her. Post this, she struggles with how she feels about his actions. Should she turn a blind eye and stay in the marriage or is a divorce the best way forward?

It has to be said that ‘Thappad’ is perhaps one of the most important films of recent times. However, one could say this about many of Sinha’s previous films, particularly those in the last few years. His style of filmmaking is thought-provoking to say the very least. It is added to by his direction and the way he puts across certain thoughts or situations to make viewers see different perspectives and feelings. ‘Thappad’ is nothing less than a feeling of how a woman feels something significant has happened to her and how her husband overlooks that. However, in this film, there are many people doing the overlooking aside from that – the usual social scenarios where a woman is told to stay quiet and move on for the betterment and peace of others. What is striking in this film is that there is a huge variety of points of view and none of them seem wrong in their own way but what Amrita herself feels seems to be something others don’t really care of. This is depicted in her constant silence towards certain things she’s faced with but also in her using her voice in a clear, transparent and highly effective manner when she does choose to speak.

Pannu’s performance as Amrita is so nuanced that it literally stays with you. There’s no bigger compliment than that. She has done her fair share of work with Sinha but with Amrita she is able to portray a character that every Indian woman will identify with to a certain extent. What’s also interesting is that she is an housewife by choice but someone who is fully capable of furthering herself. She’s intelligent, strong and yet proud to be a housewife until her husband oversteps the line. Pannu manages to show these emotions and more with so much ease that you are on her side more and more as the film goes on. The debut of Gulati is simply breathtaking. His portrayal of the unreasonable, unaware and totally absorbed in his own life Vikram is truly amazing. You don’t end up hating him because he clearly has love for Amrita but he’s caught up in his own ego and this comes through so clearly, specifically at the end. Gulati makes a very applauseworthy big screen debut and clearly has a great acting career ahead of him. The ensemble cast are usually the ones who make Sinha’s films bring the high quality they are and there are so many to mention in ‘Thappad’. Firstly, Tanvi Azmi as Vikram’s mother is a joy to see on screen as someone who is torn between loving her son and her daughter-in-law. Kumud Mishra as Amrita’s father is effective at showing the softer side of a man and a father – without the ego somewhat. Dia Mirza as the neighbour and family friend who is bringing up her daughter as a single mum is a true breath of fresh air. Maya Sarao as Amrita’s lawyer is totally kickass and there’s noone else who could’ve played Nethra quite this way. Siddhant Karnick as Vikram’s brother brings a little more freshness to the cast. Ankur Rathee as Amrita’s brother is also unbelievably easy to watch on screen. Ratna Pathak Shah as Amrita’s mother shares a great chemistry with her on-screen husband Mishra and plays the worried mother to a tee. Ram Kapoor as Vikram’s lawyer makes a great special appearance – and is always a joy to watch on screen. Together with the others not mentioned, they make this film an interesting watch to say the very least.

For this generation and those to come, ‘Thappad’ is a film that should be watched. For a society that is very male dominated, the way Sinha has presented this story and how a woman struggles to show her own and be taken seriously by others is truly refreshing and needed. This filmmaker has never shied away from controversial or socially awkward topics and ‘Thappad’ definitely is another that gives the viewer food for thought. If nothing, as an audience member, you will walk out of the cinema knowing which side you’re on and realistically that will say a lot about you than you’d like to admit.

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