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THAPPAD - An important, eye-opener film that could have been more impactful but still essentially deserves to be seen with controlled expectations. (Review By Bobby Sing)

28 Feb, 2020 | Movie Reviews / 2020 Releases

Post his thoughtful movies on the subject of religion (MULK) and caste (ARTICLE 15), writer-director Anubhav Sinha once again comes up with an issue-based film as THAPPAD pointing towards domestic violence and women considered as property by the male dominated society right since the beginning.
Incidentally as far as the subject is concerned, THAPPAD happens to be the most important and necessary film among his courageous trilogy as both religion/tradition and caste remain the major reasons behind the gender inequality and state of women in our society. But sadly, this most important film only doesn’t turn out to be as hard hitting and impactful as it should have been or was expected to be post an impressive trailer.
Made with a clear motive declaring a husband cannot hit/slap a woman, just because she is his wife, treating her as some kind of owned property, THAPPAD does raise an issue and forces us to think too. But its basic premise is weak and the execution misses a solid impact to give rise to a heathy debate in the society. Yes, the message is loud and clear addressing the males – the husbands, fathers, brothers and sons along with the mothers and mothers-in-law in particular. But the film does that without making you feel the shock, the grief, the helplessness, the anger and the emotional connect, which is only there in a specific scene between Tapsee and Tanvi Azmi (her mother-in-law), which easily can be quoted as the best scene of the film without any doubt.
The premise is confusing as the film revolving around one slap, is not exactly about domestic violence. The issue of domestic violence is more clearly there in the sub-plot of the maid getting regularly beaten by her husband, which in fact is the most cliched and predictable part of the film, added just to strengthen the reasoning behind Tapsee’s revolt. Moreover, at one point of the film, Tapsee in a dialogue states that how only one slap had made her recall all the previous instances of suppression, whereas there are no such instances ever shown to us by the director. On the contrary we are shown that Tapsee dearly loves her husband, happily looks after the family and also freely pursues her passion for dance too without any objections raised. So that kind of reasoning falls flat creating confusion.
However, the film works and serves the purpose perfectly in the sequences where the director reminds the viewers about the centuries old conditioning of our society and the gender inequality practiced in a traditional manner wherein even mothers teach their daughters to continue ignoring such acts becoming the victim. The way the women keep suffering without saying a word killing their inner ambitions and desires, continuing from one generation to another, adjusting in their new homes after marriage, conveys a lot.
THAPPAD works in the scenes featuring Tapsee and her parents, especially the father superbly played by Kumud Mishra along with Ratna Pathak Shah as her mother (who otherwise is not happy for her decision due to the same conditioning). The performances excel led by Tapsee who shows glimpses of rising above her earlier (monotonous kind of) limited expressions acts becoming the lifeline of the film. And a worth appreciating support comes from Tanvi Azmi, Pavail Gulati, Maya Sarao (she is excellent), Geetika and Naila Grewal. On the other side, Dia Mirza does almost nothing and anyone else could have easily done the same without raising the expectations coming with the name.
Co-written by director Anubhav Sinha with Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul, another merit of THAPPAD is that it doesn’t do any unnecessary male bashing, demonizing the husband in order to create a loud drama. Sinha keeps it normal and natural especially in the first half of the film. But negativity around the husband and his lawyer does come in when they add false allegations for Tapsee in their responses to the divorce petition. The nature and extent of such ridiculous allegations successfully results in their character assassination and you never look upon them with any kind of empathy from that moment onwards.
Plus, while trying to make his point, Sinha also overcrowds the film with more than required characters and sub-plots which actually dilutes its overall impact. For instance, neither the in-laws split adds anything in the narrative nor the extramarital affairs thrown in just for creating some drama. 
Having said that, there can be no denial to the fact that THAPPAD is an important film of the present times and it needs courage to make such project, despite knowing that the women-oriented themes don’t really click at the box-office in our new-age Hindi Cinema. But I sincerely wish it was made with much more clarity and impact bringing forward a crucial issue. To be fair, the film has some well written dialogues and a noteworthy background score too but a take-home song representing the trauma goes missing. Also, I couldn’t bear what they did to the cult original song of Reshma (Pakistan), hugely famous in Punjabi music circle with soothing words as “Haye O Rabba Nahio Lagda Dil Mera”. Besides, just after its poster release, the social platforms movie enthusiasts also revealed that its poster had strange similarities with the Mexican film AFTER LUCIA (2012) using an identical image of a lady getting slapped.
Anyway, in the present form, THAPPAD surely makes you think but is not capable of generating some powerful debate in the public. But then, looking at the present scenario of Hindi Cinema, its indeed an achievement if a film at least makes you think irrespective of your gender, possibly creating a positive change in the persona. Still, I truly wish this THAPPAD was much more strong and severe than it presently is.  
For friends, only looking for a review, it ends here stating the plusses and minuses with the following rating.
Rating : 3 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for the producers for courageously supporting such project)
But for friends, interested in diving deeper into the subject and its relevance in the present modern world, I would like to give you three instances to think upon with reference to the film’s key scene with the slap. Just go through these three situations and then see what feelings they generate in yourself…… and how people around us would have reacted to them as a society.
Instance ONE
The scene is of a party organised to celebrate the big promotion of the husband. But just when it was all going well with people dancing and enjoying, a call received by the husband informs that his promotion has been postponed for the next year. The husband loses his cool and starts confronting with his superior in the party itself, asking him for the logical reasoning for this. The confrontation becomes physical and many come in to calm them down dragging them away from each other. The wife is also among those and just when she tries to take her husband away, he turns in anger and slaps her hard right in front of everyone in the middle of the party.
The wife is shocked and she calmly walks away to her room. (And this is how it more or less happens in the film too)
Instance TWO
It’s the same scene continuing from the confrontation. 
The confrontation becomes physical and many come in to calm them down dragging them away from each other. The wife is also among those and just when she tries to take her husband away, he turns in anger and slaps her hard right in front of everyone in the middle of the party.
The wife is shocked by this sudden, unexpected act but then gathers herself and gives back an equally powerful slap to her husband right in front of the people standing as stones.
Then they both walk away in anger towards different rooms in the house.
Instance THREE
It’s the same scene of a party and phone coming in giving the shocking news. But here we have the role reversals in the scene with the wife getting promoted, party given by her and she receives the phone call changing her entire mood.
In her anger, she starts arguing with a waiter and slaps him hard. Her husband comes in and tries to take her away. But in this struggle, she gets angrier, turns back and gives a tight slap to her husband too shocking every single person standing around.
The husband quickly walks away inside the house.


Now in all honestly, just witness what thoughts come to your mind in the three instances mentioned above as you reach the end of each one of them. And notice what perceptions you conceive about both the husband and the wife in all the three.
I will not ask what you thought, as let’s keep it for your personal assessment.
But these thoughts only will reveal how we think about man and woman in our society with entirely different parameters and pre-set notions. And the truth is, that whatever you might be having in your mind, it will be always be the woman, on the receiving or the suffering end in our society…….. but not the man. 


Tags : Thappad Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews by Bobby Sing, Hindi movies on Social Issues, Hindi Movies on Women Empowerment
28 Feb 2020 / Comments ( 4 )
Mustafa Raja

I read the extended scenarios and a question raised in mind why only he hit his wife he could have hit any other women or man came to control him...

This scene seems forcefull just to trigger the issue. If its about wife beating or domestic violence then the lead character cant be shown happy since long time loving wife caring for whole family and just one incident changed everything. There should be verbal fights shown which reaches hitting one day then all these drama is justified. If they want to rise issues like domestic violence and wife beating then why they need high sociaty setups... The problem is major among lower class...where females cant gather courage to leave as they are not capable of earning there own bread butter and dependent... In high society the women can leave any time and get rid of husbands...  this is not just about the movie.. even if we talk in general scenarios...

Bobby Sing

Dear Mustafa, 
As I said you are just assuming without watching the movie. So would suggest that whenever you wish to think then do think after watching a film not before that. I never talk about the storyline and script in details in my review, actually no review should do that.
So what you are saying is right there in the film, which you dont know as its not in the review.
Thinking in details about any film or book without watching and reading it is a very strange and futile exercise you should avoid doing.
Hence please do watch the film and then let the thoughts come in.

Shakil Warsi

After going through reviews of Times of India and India today, I find your review more detailed and thought provoking. You watch the films wlith profound ability to analyse script scene by scene.

Going to watch the movie and will reply you then,


Bobby Sing

Thanks a lot for your so encouraging comment Shakil Ji.
Please Do Keep Visiting and Writing in.

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