Thappad is an extremely astute piece of cinema that is thought provoking, engaging and highly rewarding. This is a rare combination, even more so for a Bollywood film. Right from the release of the trailer, it was evident that Anubhav Sinha is not going to waste any time in song and dance. So, neither will I. The entire film centres around 'The Slap'. I think I would rather address it as 'The Incident' and just like the film, I will try to break-down my review around it.
Pre-Incident: The film starts with a very slice-of-life feel to it. Taapsee plays Amrita, who goes about her day doing household chores very happily. She truly believes her calling is to be the 'best home-maker'. The only 'me time' she gets is her morning tea, which she sips standing out in the balcony, while clicking a picture of the sunrise. Sharing Amrita's life is Vikram (Pavail Gulati), the husband who is working day and night for his promotion. All this while, Amrita is running around, looking after the house, looking after him and his mother (Tanvi Azmi) who is a diabetic. The pre-incident time sets the context and depicts the life of the protagonists beautifully. The film takes less than 30 mins to do all of this. As the film moves forward, I sensed 'the incident' coming from a mile away. I am sure everyone who has seen the trailer, or knows what the film is about can see it too. As the name of the film suggests, it was never meant to be a surprise. A party is announced, people are drinking, everyone is happy, Taapsee is dancing, and I matched the saree she is wearing with the trailer.
The Incident: This is where it all goes down. Even though I know what is going to happen, I start feeling uneasy, almost claustrophobic, and as the moments came up, my stomach starts to churn. Vikram gets to know that he did not get the big promotion he was after. The promotion for which he threw the party. The promotion for which he had worked so hard for the last 2 years. There is no doubt he is having a bad day. So when Amrita pulls him from a verbal altercation he starts to have with a colleague, she gets a slap in return. The camera stops for a few seconds, and so does everything else around it. He is pulled away by someone but she keeps standing there, almost paralysed. The camera spins around to give a quick glimpse of who all have seen the incident. There is shock and murmur all around. In that time, Amrita has started moving, almost like a zombie, back up the stairs, into her room and Scene! A very high level of craft is at play here, be it writing, direction or acting. Everything is in sync 100 per cent and it looks tremendous on-screen.
Post Incident: From here on out, Amrita's world comes crashing down. Once again, this depiction is so intricate. Amrita continues her schedule of getting up, making tea, going outside, but the one big change we see is, there is absolutely no joy in her eyes. The people who may be wondering at the start as to why are the daily activities being shown with so much detail will definitely understand it by this point. The writing just takes off from here and I can safely say that Thappad is one of the best-written Hindi films. Ever! Writer Mrunmayee Lagoo does a fabulous job of showcasing the suffocation, the angst and the jolt to the self-respect with the utmost care, never ever going over the top. The penultimate scene where Amrita speaks her heart out for the first time is one for the ages. So is the father-daughter interaction about how we always set out to do the right thing and it is only later that we get to know if it was right or not.
Taapsee puts in her best performance till date and with the sheer pedigree she has, this is a big compliment. Pavail is Gulatiual to the task and never lets Vikram become a Villain. The biggest highlight, however, is Kumud Mishra, who is par excellence as Amrita's father. His relationship with his daughter is the bedrock of this film and gives Amrita the strength to ask the most fundamental question - Is it just about one slap?
Thappad is a MUST WATCH!