Thappad - a stinging slap on the face of society
Release date -
28 February 2020
Thappad makes its point loud & clear in its title & narrative. It’s a stinging slap on the face of patriarchy, misogyny, entitlement & ownership.
Women are not property.
Wives are not owned.
Dreams have no gender.
The single point agenda in the movie is “You cannot slap a woman, expect her to ignore it & move on. Not even if it’s for the first time”
Misdirected anger of an otherwise “normal good guy” husband leads to a slap on his wife’s face in full public view. The reaction of that slap on the protagonist & all the onlookers forms the rest of the film. She takes time to wrap her head around the incident: the first shock, the withdrawal, and then the gradual loss of self-respect till she sees all that she has chosen to ignore all along clearly & can’t stand it anymore.
Writers Anubhav Sinha and Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul do well in turning a solitary slap into larger exploration of male entitlement. They weave a dexterous but concise narrative that, even while focusing on one woman’s life, turns it into the story about every woman. And every man. All of it centred well in a lovely early sequence of women across age groups and societal divides, riding away in to the night in cars and bicycles, all with their own stories of patriarchal infringment on the one hand and a soother like orange lolly on the other.
That it has taken us until 2020 to make a mature film like this is a slap on our society’s face. In the guise of “sabhyata”, “maryada”, “bardasht karna” this lesson is passed down from one generation to another.
Nothing is above self-respect is not a lesson many parents teach a girl child in India.
Nor is the concept of respecting women drilled enough into male, entitled heads.
It's a deep-rooted discrimination transcending class barrier, where the grandest homes can feel unprivileged in the absence of dignity and a man driving a Mercedes is not too different from the cycle riding wife beater of their house help.
What is real in the film is the question the protagonist constantly asks “am I doing right?” Years of being conditioned & led to believe that as a woman you find happiness in others happiness & the expectation that despite a slap in full public view the “wife” will move on weighs on her.
At various points in the film the audience sat there watching this unfold or the other sub characters in this narrative will question “is one slap worth it? Do you really have to go through all this upheaval? Shit does happen & people move on don’t they?” But the protagonist has her reasons & therein lies the soul search everyone will do as they watch this film.
That’s a guarantee.
Every dialogue in the narrative is just perfect & loaded; but sans pontificating melodrama. Watch out for the exchange between Taapsee & Tanvi who plays the mother-in-law at the end of the movie or between the lawyers Maya Sarao & Ram Kapoor & their clients or between Ratna Pathak Shah & Kumud Mishra the parents. Patriarchy, misogyny, entitlement, ownership is steeped in our DNA & we sadly don’t even recognize it anymore. It is hidden under the guise of love, care, respect, duty, jokes,....& worse is passed on along with genes to the next generation. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s not a male bashing parade. It’s women questioning the complicit role they play “happily” in the guise of keeping the family together. It’s as much about letting entitled behavior go unchecked as it is about male entitlement. It’s that thin line between compromise & self respect/personal happiness that is often never drawn hence technically never transgressed & peace is made in the name of “keeping family together”.
There’s also the promise that not every man or woman is the same & that marriage or remarriage is not always needed to be happy.
After a long time I came out of a movie hall feeling what just happened?
Every actor has played their part really well. Taapsee is the rock of the film. But, Pavail Gulati as the entitled husband, Tanvi Azmi as his doting mother, Kumud Mishra as the supportive father, Ratna Pathak Shah as the typical mother, Geeta Vaidya as the househelp, Maya Sarao as the lawyer battling her own self esteem, Dia Mirza as the widow neighbor ... everyone has played their part to perfection.
Go watch this folks & if you (man or woman)feel uncomfortable at the premise which you will; Anubhav Sinha has achieved the impossible.
Directed by -
Produced by -
Written by -
Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul
Geetika Vidya Ohlyan
Ratna Pathak Shah
Music Score -
Edited by -