Thappad: A Review
Allow me to begin by stating that physical violence is not an expression of love, a line that people might have heard in the trailer of this movie.
Set in Delhi, Thappad is the story of Amrita, a homemaker and her husband, Vikram.
It gives us an insight into the lives of different couples, ranging across the barriers of class or wealth. Some of them are living their happiest days while others are not.
Physical violence is not an expression of love, a line that people might have heard in the trailer of this movie.
At the outset, we witness the regular churning of a household, in which day after day Amrita follows a monotonous and autopilot routine, trying to do everything and anything that can make her husband’s life plain sailing. From waking up before him to make his breakfast to running after him while carrying his files, Amrita is the epitome of a ‘perfect wife’.
The fascinating thing about this is that she is doing it happily, not a frown on her face to indicate otherwise.
At the same time, her husband is shown to be working pretty hard in the hopes of getting a promotion, which would allow them to move to London. The movie takes a turn for the worst at a success party organized at their house after he receives his expected promotion.
A good time filled with fun and frolic suddenly takes a turning point when Vikram slaps Amrita in front of all the guests just because she was trying to break him off from a heated argument with his boss after he had found out that he was getting a slightly smaller promotion than he was expecting.
It is an accepted fact that you can’t slap your boss, but in this patriarchal society, domestic violence is also a norm, a reality.
However, this doesn’t come as an extreme shock to the audience.
Throughout the movie, up to that point, we had seen signs of male chauvinism in all the actions made by Vikram. For instance, the nameplate at their house had only his name on it, he didn’t know how to do his own chores, he expected Amrita to be there at his beck and call, he even expected her to master in cooking just because he was a foodie & considered it as his greatness to have married her despite her not knowing how to cook and the list goes on.
So, when the slap was delivered, the audience wasn’t taken by surprise because the movie had already established Vikram as a man who adheres to all the guidelines that make him ‘the man’ of the household and Amrita as an unassertive woman, full of qualities that the society expects to see in a woman.
That ‘one slap’ is a slap to patriarchy, to the male privilege in our society & a slap to misogyny.
A slight detail that the audience is likely to miss in the movie is the fact that Vikram took his anger out on his wife although he was having an argument with his boss. What is so sardonic about this is that he was angry at his boss yet he slapped his wife, which is a reflection of male privilege that engulfs our society.
Simply put, it is an accepted fact that you can’t slap your boss, but in this patriarchal society, domestic violence is also a norm, a reality. This is the only reason he even dared to hit his wife. This is the answer to the question, “Par aisa hua kyu?”
What happens next in the movie is gut-wrenching and is bound to move even the hardest of the hearts. Amrita is seen struggling as her world shatters around her.
The slap is symbolic of a wake-up call which makes her realize the course her life has taken. She suddenly sees all that she has given up for her husband and her picture-perfect life doesn’t seem as fulfilling to her then.
Her husband’s reaction to this is so stereotypical that it can be considered as a joke. Instead of apologizing, he instead puts forward a justification for his abominable action and blames it on his anger & frustration of not getting the expected promotion. He expects her to ‘move on’ and stop ‘overreacting’ to such a ‘small issue’.
The movie also sheds light on other forms of oppression faced by women. Marital rape, difficulties faced by a single mother, how people try to subvert the success of a woman and the list is never-ending.
Whether you have been in the same situations as those shown in the movie or not, you are bound to relate to it at some level. This is the remarkable thing about this movie.
The stupendous portrayal of Amrita by Tapsee Pannu is what gives life to the movie. In addition to this, acting by Ratna Pathak, Tanvi Azmi and Dia Mirza adds a cherry on the top.
The execution of the movie is so phenomenal that it doesn’t feel like a movie but a true life event unfolding in front of your eyes.
In a nutshell, that ‘one slap’ is a slap to patriarchy, to the male privilege in our society & a slap to misogyny.
Poignant, soul-stirring and dramatic, Thappad is a blockbuster that is bound to shake you up.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Himani Khullar