Meghna Gulzar on why she cast Deepika Padukone for Chhapaak: ‘For me, it was important to take a face associated with beauty’

Updated on Dec 13, 2019 09:52 AM IST

On choosing Deepika Padukone to play an acid attack survivor in Chhapaak, director Meghna Gulzar said she wanted a face associated with beauty as the impact would be strong.

Deepika Padukone plays Malti in Chhapaak.
Deepika Padukone plays Malti in Chhapaak.
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Filmmaker Meghna Gulzar has said she wanted to make a statement with her choice of the lead actor in her film on acid attack survivors — Chhapaak. The first trailer of the film landed recently and is winning hearts with the sensitive portrayal of a strong woman. Deepika Padukone, who also turns a producer with the film, stars in the lead role of Malti in the film. The film is loosely based on Delhi’s acid attack survivor, Laxmi Aggarwal.

Speaking with Mumbai Mirror in an interview, Meghna said, “For me, it was important to take a face associated with beauty because when you distort it, like it would happen to a survivor, the contrast and impact is far stronger. Not everybody is Deepika Padukone, but these other girls were beautiful too and didn’t deserve this to happen to them. No girl deserves it going forward. I’m fortunate Deepika agreed to play the part.”

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Talking abut the use of prosthetics, the filmmaker added, “During our research, we discovered that Laxmi Agarwal’s pictures before the attack are strikingly similar to Deepika’s when she was young. There is an uncanny similarity in their physicality which shows up in the prosthetics. That was my starting point. Then came the larger thought of the impact of the message which would get magnified with her in the lead as Malti (who is fashioned after Laxmi). The idea wasn’t to make Deepika look like Laxmi, but to make her look like what she’d have looked, God forbid, if something like this happened to her. The essence of Deepika is still there, particularly in her eyes.”

“It takes courage to discard your calling card and bare yourself completely. When you are shorn of all the usual trappings— hair, make-up, costume, jewellery—with only your craft exposed, it’s a brave path to walk and Deepika has done it with flourish,” she praised Deepika.

Asked if her parents — lyricist Gulzar and actor Rakhi — have watched the film, Meghna told the tabloid, “Like always, I’d shared the script with him; he saw a preliminary version of the trailer and the off-line edit, and got all emotional and teary-eyed. For me, it’s hard to tell if his reaction was coming from the film or because I had made it. He can be terribly biased, but I’m happy my parents are proud of my work.”

On whether or not her mother, Raakhee, has seen it, Meghna said, “My mother does not like to see a work in progress. She has just heard the songs and is waiting to watch the complete film. When the first copy comes out, that screening is hers.”

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