There have been many movies made on domestic violence faced by women. Daman and Agni Sakshi are the Hindi movies that I remember, from my childhood, which were well scripted movies on this issue. Thappad is another movie on this topic in 2020 though the director and his story has not progressed much since the movies made in 1990s on this issue. The director was probably a bit more polite and subtle in his direction and the movie dealt with the issue in a decently civilised manner except for the setting up of the premise of the movie. The “Thappad” look so forced, so unnatural, that it bordered on artificial. What was even more puzzling was the post “Thappad” reaction of everyone in the scene. Nobody moved! Nobody! For a good 2 minutes, the protagonist was alone post the incident during which she felt embarrassed, angry and sad, picked herself up (metaphorically and literally) and walked to her room. Honestly I (forgive my limited experience in life) haven’t seen any public fall out or any public nuisance with everyone frozen except for the protagonist and no one helping that person when he/she is your relative or friend!
Till now, I discussed my concern with the premise of the movie. I will discuss the movie in terms of storyline a little more before I share my thoughts on the technical aspects of the movie. From the slap incident, to the next 2 hours, the movie moved at a snail’s pace about the realisation, the walking away, the legal battle and finally the redemption! Sorry for being quite objective in breaking down the story into these four parts and not coming across as empathetic about the story till now but the blame has to be shared by the director as well. Each part could have been finished in a combined time of 1 hour had the director been more intelligent or more knowledgeable about the subject. Every character was so poorly developed (without much background to their actions or behaviours) that I couldn’t comprehend their actions and reactions in the movie. The only relatable or sensible or logical characters in the movie were the protagonist’s father and her house help. Some pointers to the protagonist but she looked utterly confused throughout the movie post the incident. It looked as though she was herself questioning the construct of the movie and the behaviour of all others around her.
That is all my rant on why I was not moved by the movie despite the sensitive topic. Now I would like to share some pointers on the technical aspects. The background score was not a proper fit for all parts and in some parts the sad score in the background just made it a desperate attempt to get sympathy. The acting was a weak link in this one. Most of the actors were clueless about the depth of their characters. Exception being Kumud Mishra (Protagonist’s Father), Geetika Vidya (Protagonist’s house help) and in certain parts Tapasee. Geetika was an outstanding performer. She lived her part. She was so believable that her story was more interesting and sympathetic than Tapasee’s herself. I had to google to be sure that this “Soni” actor was actually playing this part and was absolutely thrilled upon the confirmation. She would be a forgotten artist in a couple of years, maybe because of our country’s obsession with good looking actors but she is one of the best acting talent in the country (I would suggest you watch Soni on Netflix. One of the top 5 Hindi movies of last year in my opinion). In terms of story and screenplay, both were poorly written and dragged. Same is true with the direction. No cinematic brilliance, poor execution and long silences or slow moving sequences without an end objective in sight. Editing was poor. Cinematography couldn’t be analysed as most of the movie is indoors with sufficient lighting. The protagonist was shown as a photography enthusiast yet there are no moments to dive deep into her hobby. That is where the cinematography could have been judged better.
P.S: These views are more or less vouched by a female around me. So gender biases were probably not at play while watching this movie.