Duration: 120 mins
Chhappak, starring Deepika Padukone, is based on the real-life story of an acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal who was attacked by her stalker a 32-year-old man. Portraying the character of Malti, Deepika perhaps takes on the most challenging role she has ever played and her poignant performance urges audience to celebrate life as opposed to simply drawing on their sympathy for the fate of acid attack survivors.
Directed by Meghna Gulzar, the movie revolves around a 19-year-old aspiring singer Malti who is attacked by Babbu, "a family friend" after she rejected all his romantic gestures. Following the attack, Babbu visits her at the hospital and although, she is in severe pain, Malti vows to make sure he is punished. But Babbu manages to secure his bail.
Years later, Malti is seen working for an NGO for acid attack victims, battling her court case and getting corrective surgeries at the hospital. In flashbacks, we see how she dealt with everything post the attack. Her life much like her face is scarred and Padukone's powerful performance evokes tears, anger and frustration. Moments like the scene when Malti releases an ear-piercing scream after seeing her sutured face for the first time following the attack will leave you with goosebumps on your arms. Another powerful moment is when we see Malti hold up an earring to her ear and realises she cannot wear it. It suddenly brings to light what these acid attack survivors actually go through and all the little things that we take for granted.
Gulzar plays the director's masterstroke when she draws an ironical resemblance between Malti's changing life and the transforming scars as Malti undergoes treatments to reduce them. We are all used to seeing Padukone dolled up in her roles and it is interesting to see her step into a character where she appears to breathe and live the life of Lakshmi.
Padukone has become an advocate for acid attack survivors and the team have been doing alot to build awareness about acid attack survivors who are just like any other ordinary person, they still have feelings and should be able to shop and do normal activities without being stared at or judged. Padukone donned her Malti makeup and hit the streets of India to capture real-life reactions to those who have been attacked by acid.
Both Meghna Gulzar and Deepika should be lauded for the sensitive approach towards the subject. The film will fill you with emotion and although there are parts (tedious court room drama) that sometimes dragged the movie, the team have done a splendid job in not showing the character as a victim but a survivor.