Shubha Shetty Saha
Stars: three and half
Chhapaak is not an easy watch for sure. Mostly because of the nature of the subject that Meghna Gulzar has chosen to direct. Chhapaak aims at making you uncomfortable and squirm in your seats and it manages to do just that. Gulzar talks about the young women who become victims of gruesome crime of acid throwing and live the nightmare all their lives. Based on the gritty life of acid survivor Laxmi, the film is a noble attempt at shining the light on the nature of the crime that continues to happen thanks to acid bottles easily available off the counters.
Deepika Padukone plays Malti, a high school going girl, who gets attacked by Babbu, a rejected suitor. Malti’s life changes overnight. While her family is helpless, two ladies, a benefactor and a lawyer (played by Madhurjeet Sarghi) help Malti get out of her depression and not only fight her case but fight for the rest of the acid survivors. They encourage her to file a PIL against acid sold so easily. Malti meets Amol (Vikrant Massey) a journalist turned social worker and her life begins to change again.
This is a tough film to make and full marks to Meghna for handling it with the sensitivity that it requires. However, one expected better from the writing (written by Gulzar herself along with Atika Chauhan)team. While outwardly one gets what happens to Malti, the writers fail to get into the psyche of the teenage girl going through a nightmare which she will never be able to wake up from. There are a few scenes which do give a peek into what must be going on in Malti’s mind, but those don’t seem enough.
Deepika Padukone, even though looks older than the character she plays, has clearly put her her heart and soul into playing this role. This an be easily called one of her best performances. Vikrant Massey is excellent. Even though his character not really fully formed, he manages to take the movie a notch above with his cool unassuming persona and natural performance.
Meghna has handpicked the other actors well and each of them lend good support. Don’t miss this one. It is not comfortable but it is necessary.