Thappad: Eight moments from Taapsee Pannu’s film that make it a must watch
Directed by Anubhav Sinha, Thappad is a film that raises most important questions about the role of women in our families. Taapsee Pannu plays the lead role in the film.
Director Anubhav Sinha and writer Mrunmayee Lagoo are getting a lot of love for their latest outing, Thappad that stars Taapsee Pannu in the lead role. Much of the praise must be reserved for the fact that it presents a very important subject matter in an extremely simple way. (Spoilers ahead)
What makes the film path-breaking is how a one-line story idea is translated on screen in an effective and sensitive manner. What happens when a ‘good’ husband slaps his wife and she refuses to ‘let go and adjust’. She is told ‘it is only a slap’, reminded ‘it happened just once’ but she refuses to bow down to the misogyny inherent in such advice.
In one of her arguments with her own lawyer Netra (essayed by Maya Sarao), Amrita tells her that she didn’t get an unfair deal in the marriage - up until the slap, of course. “Housewife hoon, meri choice thi. Wo paise kamaega, mai ghar chalaungi. Fair deal thi meri. Unfair wo thappad tha, unfair hai mujhse expect karna ke main move on karun. (I was a housewife by choice. It was a fair deal - he was supposed to earn money and I took care of the household. The slap was unfair, to expect that I should move on despite the slap is unfair).”
In reality, we are decades away from the moment when women will get to actually ‘choose’ their roles , but the film places the agency in the woman’s hand - whether she is a housewife or have a career.
Pavail Gulati, who makes his Bollywood debut with the role of Taapsee’s ‘good husband’ gets a dose of common sense knocked into his head by none other than his office senior. The movie has several characters explaining Pavail’s slap with the reason that he was under tremendous pressure from office and the office politics involved in top-level decision. It is only apt that director Anubhav gets none other than that office senior to tell the husband that he may be running a race (in his professional life), he must understand that the family is not running the race and make him realise that he was wrong to even think that he could slap her. “Tum mujhse gussa the, Thapar (Boss) se gussa the, kya tum humein thappad maar sakte the? (You were angry with me and Boss, could you think of slapping us)?” the office senior asks Pavail.
Ram Kapoor essays the role of a top lawyer who knows how to twist the law, play the complainant and buy proof and witnesses. However, unlike the typically villainous lawyer of the offender, Ram’s character knows, accepts and admits that his client is in the wrong. Even when the client and his friend tell him that it was not domestic violence but “just one slap”, Ram’s character says that it qualifies for domestic violence.
During the promotions, much was said about the supportive and woke father. However, the movie makes sure to show us how even the father who understands the importance of dignity of his daughter, could not respect the feelings of his own wife. At one point, Ratna Pathak (Taapsee’s mom in the movie) asks Kumud Mishra (Taapsee’s dad), “Maine band kar diya gana, to aapne bhi to jane diya? Aapne bhi to nahi pucha ki ab kyu nahi gaati? Kyunki aap jante the mai gana bajana le kar baith gai to dus baatein banayenge log (I did not continue my singing, but did you bother to ask why did I stop? You knew if I went back to my music, people will talk).”
During one of the meetings between the two lawyers, Ram Kapoor asks Taapsee to get a better lawyer, adding that Netra kab lawyer se activist ban gai, use pata hi nahi chala (She does not know when she became an activist from a lawyer ).” A jibe commonly used against women who demand equality, he gets the perfect reply when Taapsee says, “Lawyer se aurat ban gai, aur clearly wo to galat hai (She turned a woman from a lawyer and clearly that is wrong).”
Taapsee’s character Amrita loves dancing and teaches classical dance to a neighbourhood kid. Diya Mirza plays the working, singler mother of this young child and their’s is another beautiful addition to the narrative. While trying his best to avoid a divorce and charges of domestic violence, Pavail approaches Diya to testify against Taapsee’s allegation. A calm and composed Diya looks lovingly at her child (who witnessed the slap at the party and was clearly upset) and said, “I was married to a wonderful man and I like to believe men and sensible. Abhi jo apne kaha, mai sochungi ye maine kabhi suna hi nahi (I will pretend I never heard what you just said).”
Almost towards the end, most characters realise that Amrita (Taapsee), too, is a human being and deserves to be treated as one. Even her brother had initially refused to understand her feelings and scolded his own girlfriend for having helped with legal assistance. However, when he realises his mistakes, he tells his girlfriend that he wants to “reboot” and become worthy of her but she wants to “reboot together”. It is a sweet gesture of love and understanding on both sides.
Not really one in the film, but a post-credit scene shows the mother-in-law (Tanvi Azmi) coming out of her house with a bottle of beverage - much like most women in the film did for their husbands - but is seen heading ahead for jogging, the bottle meant for herself.
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