Thappad: When a single slap changes everything

Marriage cannot be a patriarchal stranglehold and a slap cannot be shrugged off

Vallisa Chauhan Monday 02nd March 2020 04:53 EST

Genre: Drama

Duration: 142 minutes

Thappad is a film about relationships, domestic violence, and social values. Amrita seems to have a simply blissful marriage with her husband Vikram until one day when he slaps her in public and this changes everything between them.

The first part of the film starts by showing the loving marriage between Amrita (Taapsee Pannu) and her workaholic husband Vikram (Pavail Gulati). Amrita hails from a family in Delhi where she is trained as a classical dancer and she gives up her dreams to support that of her husband. She now dreams of being the best housewife ever and her whole life revolves around her husband and his needs and wants. Vikram has goals and will do anything to achieve them. Due to office politics, Vikram finds out his dreams may be further away than he thinks. When anger and frustration take over he does the unthinkable, he slaps his wife at a function to celebrate his success.

This is the start of an ugly battle that goes beyond domestic violence. This incident makes Amrita rethink her life choices, but husband Vikram lives in denial and cannot understand how one single slap could be such a life-changer.

There are no villains in this film, just a couple at its center who are now deciding where their relationship stands and how they are going to move on.

The two leads are brilliant in essaying their roles, even as their relationship turns sour their characters are still likeable. Anubhav Sinha has done well not to make Vikram seem like an unlikeable character and not to make Amrita a victim. Although the film is about domestic violence it is more about relationships and how to mend them rather than playing the blame game and passing on the buck.

Taapsee Pannu in recent times is often referred to be in the leagues of actresses such as Kangana Ranaut and Vidya Balan who have become the Bollywood models of an empowered woman fighting their way through abuse and prejudiced societal and judicial systems. Carrying on her legacy from Pink where “a no means no” this time the trauma and fear on Pannu’s character is now replaced by an odd blend of sadness and resignation. But, she stands clear in delivering that social message that “even one single slap is too much”. The director touches on the nuances of the cultural norms and “tolerance” levels of understanding and compromise often preached about in an Indian marriage. He does this through the couple’s parents and brother who are shocked to hear about the husband slapping his wife in the middle of a function but advise their daughter to shrug it off and give him another chance. Sinha is also precarious in certain scenes hinting at adultery and highlights the signs of marital rape.

There is a particularly poignant scene in the movie where Amrita says “Perhaps I turned myself into the kind of the person who could be slapped,". That in itself is an answer. 

There are parts of this film that will touch on your heartstrings and in certain scenes with Amrita, especially when she breaks down and explains why one single slap changed her life. Thappad is a must-watch film and it will be wholly appreciated.

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