Look in the mirror- Chhappak

By Aditya in Reviews » Movie Reviews
Updated 14:52 IST Jan 12, 2020

Stereotyping has become a part of our life. More often than not we do it subconsciously and sometimes we do it knowingly. Either way, it has become difficult for us to accept things as they are. People, places, things, thoughts everything has to fall in this or that bucket and art is no exception.

So which bucket do we put Chhappak in? Is it a tragedy? Is it a quest? Is it rebirth? Is it rags to riches? It can be anything or a bit of everything. Try and park the urge to assign a category, try and accept the film with a clean perspective without expecting cliché of the genre, only then there is a possibility that you will be able to see Chhappak for what it is. For it is just a story that needs to be told, as it is...!

I came out of the theater obviously troubled, scared and concerned. But not once during the entire run time did I cry, and let me tell you I cry easily. Not once did I experience shock, not once did I felt like closing my eyes. There have been insensitive films where heinous crimes are showcased with great detail. These films use spectacle because we consume spectacle, cause we as consumers have become insensitive.

A seller will sell what a buyer will buy. But every once in a while, a true artist will defy popular notions and show us a picture of our society, of who we are and what we have become. It is obvious that we won’t find it comfortable, it will question our morals, it will question our choices, the picture will stare us in the eye, Chhappak is such.

In one of the scenes, Amol (Vikrant Massey) a restless and angry social worker reprimands his team for celebrating a minor victory. Malti (Deepika Padukone) gently questions his rage, “I am the one to survive the acid attack, not you. Why are you angry, when I am happy? I am happy and I want to party.” This is an accurate depiction of our beliefs. We expect to see a victim to be crippled, physically and mentally. We expect a survivor to struggle and fight his/her way to the top. Only after countless fights in the second act, should the protagonist win. That’s the popular way of screenwriting and that’s how we are conditioned to view. Maybe that’s the reason many film reviewers will say that the “writing is weak”. They say so because it does not fall in line with the textbook way of writing. It does not matter.

It does not matter because Meghna Gulzar holds our hand and walks us through a very real story in a very really way. Like a good teacher handholding her students, she teaches us to learn and appreciate simplicity. She requests us to not expect spectacle and instead focus on the communication. Like with most good teachers, her success will depend on how responsive and responsible we are.

Deepika delivers a solid performance, not once trying to overdo an expression yet never failing to deliver what is essential. Vikrant supports her beautifully and brings out the decent side of the “human male” a non-existent quality in the eyes of misguided one-note male hating feminists. Meghna doesn’t demonize the man. Yes, the perpetrator is a man, a rank impression of a patriarchal, delusional alpha male. The friend is rank coward as well, hiding his masculinity in between his legs when his girlfriend needs support. But there is also the helpless father, who silently suffers and dilutes his fears in the hidden drink. There is a gentle old passerby who rushes to support and offers a helping hand. There is also a metrosexual man who does not mind making tea and doing his daughter’s hair when his wife is busy fighting her battles. Of course there is Amol who is as much a “man” that one can be and yet a person willing to evolve by observation.

Chhappak is Meghna’s film hands down. With Raazi she showcased her potential and showed us the meaning of “perspectives” in a story where good and evil are unshakable, undisputed stereotypes. With Chhappak she offers a mirror, just that, a mirror and while we see the burned and disfigured face of Malti in it, it is actually our face that we witness. An ugly face we are unwilling to accept!

A dark face no amount of fairness creams and cosmetic surgeries will be able to hide. For that to happen, we need courage the size of Malti’s heart, and an unwavering desire to be happy. Neither of which we can find outside, for that to happen we have to look deep within. But for now, a look in the mirror is a good starting point, go take a look if you dare.

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Ananya 12-Jan-2020 11:26

Wow Aditya, your writing matures with every article you write!!! I'm so proud of you

Aditya 12-Jan-2020 14:50

Thank you Ananya for the appreciation.