I already have my favourite film of 2020. Nothing else that will come during the year, absolutely nothing can surpass the sublimity and purity of intention visible in Meghna Gulzar’s third feature film Chhapaak. She directed films before. But her career started with Talvar.
The 2-minute trailer of the film categorically puts forward a case for Deepika Padukone’s first National award.The queen of the boxoffice here delivers a performance that she and Ranveer Singh can proudly show to their children, except that the children won’t recognize their mother in Chhapaak. They will probably be frightened when they see this woman with a ravaged face.
There is a shot in the trailer of Chhapaak where a little boy on the street screams out when he sees acid victim Malti’s face. More than the boy’s scram, it is Malti’s flinch that made me jump out of my skin.The cruelty and callousness of the world matters only when it affects us personally. For it to not affect us we need a thick skin, which Deepika’s Malti doesn’t have. Not when her face has been burnt, peeling off layers and layers of skin leaving her with no face to call her own.
Meghna Gulzar lets us hear Malti’s scream when she sees herself for the first time after recovering from the acid attack. It’s a scream that embraces the pain humiliation, hurt and shock of every victim of abuse, male or female, in the universe. It’s a scream so primeval that it penetrates the core of the gender issue bringing to the surface a hurt so deep it cannot be manifested in words and a wound that never heals.
“There is no nose no ears. Where do I wear my ear rings?” Malti asks. It’s a question that resonates in the universe for all of us to answer.
Yet Chhapaak doesn’t seem to be a film about grieving and selfpity. As portrayed by Deepika the acid victim Maliti seems in a happy space so much so that the journalist (Vikrant Massey) who comes to interview her asks her to …well, stop being so happy because it’s just in character with a disfigured acid victim.
“Abb khush hoon toh kya karun,” is Deepika/Malti’s bewildered bemused response.
All of these sometimes-diverse emotions, I felt coursing through the veins of Meghna Gulzar’s Chhapaak, a film that I am sure will, make a splash.
Trailer Rating: **** (4 stars)