1st February 2020

Thappad Ki Goonj,Tapsee-Anubhav Get It Right Again

Here’s the thing.Anubhav Sinha’s  two previous works Mulk and Article 15 dealt with heavyweight  issues, namely the communal divide and the caste system.  Thappad , as shown  in the trailer, is  about a  slap.

The  husband(played  by  the very talented semi-newcomer Pavail  Gulati) who is  not  a cad,  slaps his wife at a business  party.Much to his  horror  and  the outraged reaction  of both the  families,she files for  a divorce.As simple as  that. There are loud sniggers from people around the wife asking if she is not over-reacting.

This is the reaction Anubhav Sinha’s fights in this  plaintive plea against patriarchy. The  trailer  is  done in  darkened shades  suggesting a  deeprooted malaise.  Sinha places his female hero the ever-dependable Taapsee Pannu  above  the  simmering  gender prejudices. She  is a well-to-do well-placed  wife of a loving husband  who  in an impulsive fit of rage slaps his wife.

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Tapsee Pannu’s lawyer, her  mom (Ratna Pathak Shah) they are all  shown to  shocked by the wife’s decision to divorce her husband for a slap. The smoothly-edited trailer creates a  huddle  of hurdles for the wife’s character.She is at the  risk of looking foolishly misguided.   But she  is determined to fight it  out.

 Yeah, that one  slap.Because it reminds her of all that’s wrong with her life and marriage.

“I don’t love you anymore,” she declares to her husband. Watching the trailer, I felt sorry for the husband.He slapped  his wife. But  he doesn’t know what  hit him.Anubhav Sinha seems to be   treading  on  much thinner ice  in Thappad than in his earlier films. The questions that he raises this time are  short-term afflictions with   far-reaching ramifications.

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I am  reminded  of a Swedish film Force Majeure where during a  vacation in the snow, the father  of the family  bolts with his phone when the family  is  faced with a potentially catastrophic  avalanche. It’s  not what he  does, it’s more  about what the gesture applies , that destroys  the marriage.

Tapsee  looks  gloriously glamorous  as  an ‘aware’ wife  in a well-to-do family battling what seems to be  ‘just’a  slap.

Hota hai,  the characters around her,  all played  by fine actors, tell her.

 Nahin  honi chahiye, says Anubhav.

Trailer rating: ****(4 stars).

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