The recently released movie, Thappad (Slap) deserves a review. It is hard hitting and earnest. Spoiler alert! This blog may contain a few details.
The movie is set up in Delhi in today’s world and centers around Amrita (Taapsee Pannu). She is from a middle-class family married into a rich business family. Her life in turn centers around her household. Waking up early in the morning, serving tea to her husband, taking care of her diabetic mother in law, getting things in order for her husband to managing everything in the house including “her” Internet and “her” printer – as her husband voices. Her husband is on his way to becoming CEO of his company and shifting base to London. He is completely oblivious to anything else in his life.
The turning point is the party at their house, where, in a fit of anger and frustration over office politics, her husband slaps Taapsee publicly.
She goes about her routine in a daze while digesting what the slap meant and represented. Her husband meanwhile, treats it as “shit happens”. He puts it down to his frustration over being cheated out of a promotion he richly deserved. He gives her a gift, takes her out to dinner but doesn’t acknowledge he did anything wrong or is apologetic for his action. She on the other hand, realizes she can’t continue living this life and leaves for her parent’s home. The rest of the movie is about her struggle to emerge from this incident with her self-respect preserved and her head held high.
There are parallel tracks of other supporting cast with their own stories largely reiterating the subtext of patriarchal mindsets that continue dominating our thinking even today. Everyone advices Taapsee to let it go and move on.
She however, makes a powerful pitch to her lawyer saying she became a housewife by choice and tied her happiness to her husband’s but did that entitle him to slap her and get away with it?
Every actor irrespective of their screen time portrays their characters beautifully. Pavail Gulati (Taapsee’ screen husband) is the right mix of the entitled, privileged and insensitive chauvinist who realizes a bit too late his mistake. His mother (Tanvi Azmi) in telling Taapsee that women should learn to be patient and put up with it. Taapsee’s own mother (Ratna Pathak) saying women have to sacrifice their desires and dreams for the peace of the house focuses the role mothers play in perpetuating patriarchy and male entitlement in our society. Kumud Mishra (as Taapsee’s father) plays a delightful role and will win many hearts. But he too realizes despite being progressive for his daughter’s rights, how he may have unknowingly let down his wife.
I particularly liked that everyone in the movie has a point of view without being sermonising. Every action has repercussions and people have to decide based on their circumstances. We often face situations in our life where there’s no wrong or right decision. We just need to listen to our heart. When we do that, the outcome doesn’t matter as such.
Taapsee expresses herself beautifully through her eyes, body language and dialogues and gives us a peek into what’s going through her mind. She struggles for two simple things she wanted when she got married- happiness and respect. Over time, she gained neither. The thappad becomes the proverbial last straw on the camel’s back. It is the physical realization of a one-sided marriage where male feelings, male needs, male life goals make her identity subservient.
The movie raises a number of issues we regularly sweep under the carpet.
Set in a modern-day urban household signifies big city homes and educated class are not free from these mindsets. Raising our children with the right messaging at home is still critical. Education alone won’t solve it. Our daily actions need to reflect the correct attitude towards women. We also need to free ourselves from societal inhibitions and stand for what is morally right. It takes a lot of spine. This movie is wholly about that.
With women’s day coming up, the movie is well timed and a resounding reminder that women empowerment is still a distance away, but mindsets can and should change. We have to decide what will be our ‘Thappad’ to spur us into action?
Have you watched the movie yet? If yes I would love to hear your reviews!