A thought provoking, emotional ride that carries an impactful splash!
Deepika Padukone’s much awaited Chhapaak directed by Meghna Gulzar is about an acid attack survivor and her life from thereon. What happens when life hits rock bottom for Malti overnight, when she is attacked by acid? What is the root cause of this problem and the solution to this issue? These issues are discussed in detail in this very educatively written out film. Has the film got its impact on the audience?
Deepika plays Malti, a young girl who is an acid attack survivor. Her ambitious life takes a turn after this event and the reason for this is the fact that the society does not see her the same way that it did before this gruesome event. Vikrant Massey plays an activist who revolts against the sale of acid across the counter. Together, the two form team of educated women and lawyers in order to bring about a ban on the accessibility to the dangerous acid. Do they achieve what they set out to? This forms the rest of the storyline.
Thought Chhapaak is based on the personal problem that Deepika faces at the very start of the film, the overall picture focuses more on eradicating the root cause for this problem. It also manages to do so without garnering or appealing for much of sympathy. Yes, the impact of the acid attack is shot in a deliberately impactful manner in order to transfer the pain of the victim to the audiences. But apart from this, the film has a very good intention on the larger scale and this is what makes Chhapaak the good film that it is.
Deepika as Malti is fabulous. Her makeup after the attack, the transition between the flascuts and the present, her body language, emotions and all of what has her is a big positive to the film. Vikram Massey’s performance too is very seasoned and his focus sees no seizure at any point. Vishal Dahiya as Basheer, the attacker is menacing and he manages to convince us that he deserves a very cruel punishment thus making his character very strong. The casting on the whole is on point and even smaller roles create a great deal of an impact.
Though the performances of these characters is pointed towards the attack and events surrounding this issue, the film also questions the weak law system that prevails in our country. A large part of Chhapaak is set in the hospital and the courts. These court sequences are fairly gripping and ask a lot of essentially unanswered questions to the terrible law system and the below par punishments offered by the Indian government towards such crime. This is also the USP of this picture as it becomes a collective effort of one and all to abolish acid sale and easy access rather than just focussing on the protagonist’s personal issue. This understanding of the root cause and the solution offered, deserves praise.
The technicalities too have been well handled by director Meghna as she plays her cards right in most of the scenes. The cinematography by Malay Prakash, especially in the interior portions are fantastic and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy deliver big time with their background score. In fact, the title track plays in a couple of instances and adds to the emotional value of the film. The only downs could be some portions in the latter half that seemed to bring down the overall engagement value of the film as we have our problem solved almost 15 minutes ahead of the climax. Nevertheless, a stunning post climax scene and end credits that educate us on the attacks that still happen make up for this point too.
Overall, Chhapaak, that has a non-linear screenplay, is a very interesting, thought provoking film on acid attacks that happen across the country and the treatment too by Meghna Gulzar is grounded and apt for this sort of a subject. The most intriguing part of the film was undoubtedly the parts of the flashback that collectively explain the attack that Deepika (Malti) faces. However, the larger picture’s intention makes it a film that would get you thinking rather than just sympathise with the lead character, unlike in most other films.
Verdict: Deepika’s Chhapaak deserves a watch for its objective, execution, performances, the solution and the multiple questions it raises against our laws!