Director: Meghna Gulzar
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Vikrant Massey
Chhapaak is based on a real-life incident of an acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. Meghna Gulzar's directorial takes us through a journey of a young girl and how her life changes in no time after the horrifying acid attack. Her journey that moves each and every one.
"Agar acid milta hi nahi toh bikta bhi nahi." This particular line is heart-wrenching when Malti (played by Deepika Padukone) says it with all the grit making us numb for a fraction of a second.
As the narrative begins, we first meet Malti, an aspiring singer, who dreams like every young girl would ever have until she gets the biggest scar of her life. She is on a job hunt. We see her consciously trying to move on from the emotional trauma that the heinous crime has left her with. The story moves back and forth as she narrates her story to the audience.
Malti is seen battling for her physical scars as well as emotional trauma, from court cases to surge's, she does it all. But never do we see her in the self-pitying mode. She is up there, fighting for her rights and comes out strong and brave with each passing day.
However, fate has other plans as support from her family dwindles owing to her brother's illness and father's death. It is Malti's lawyer Archana (Madhurjeet Sarghi), who stands by her through her arduous journey. There comes a ray of hope in Malti's life Amol (Vikrant Massey), who employs her to work for his NGO.
How she wins everything at her personal and professional front with a bright and sparkling smile is worth watching.
Deepika Padukone as Malti, needless to say, is a powerhouse of a performer. Her emotions and the way she has dealt with the subject is awe-inspiring. The actress outshines in every frame and it's unbelievable to see how well she has narrated the toughest scenes. Mouthing heavy dialogues with prosthetics it is difficult for anyone but she did it with panache.
Vikrant Massey compliments Deepika and that makes us believe that good men do exist. Their romance is like a fresh breath of air. Amidst a lot of emotional turmoil, Vikrant supports acid attack survivors and very few men have the guts to stand up and hold someone's hand whom the society doesn't accept. He is endearing and vulnerable at the same time.
The first half leaves you with Malti's bittersweet journey that will moist your eye. Meghna Gulzar makes sure that with each passing frame, we see a new battle fought by Malti and challenges that doesn't make her weak. The second half is more compelling as she turns into a revolutionary. Although some parts are stretched that can be overlooked as the narrative is quite intriguing and powerful.
There are certain dialogues in the film that are so hard-hitting and touchy that every human out there will feel the pain that Malti is feeling. For instance, "Unhone meri surat badli hai...mera mann nahi" or when and one where she determinedly tells Amol, "Mujhe party karni hain." Precisely why Malti's character is a winner. There comes a time when she sees her face in the mirror post her surgery and cries her heart out or says, 'Naak Nai hai, Kaan nai hai jhumke kaha lataungi.'
The soundtrack stand out with 'Chhapaak' title track and 'Nok Jhok' (soundtrack by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, lyrics by Gulzar) adding to the poignancy of the mood.
There are some overstretched melodramatic incidents like the court trial and the elaborative song sequences which could've been shorter.
It's a brave attempt by Meghna Gulzar and Deepika Padukone. The film is not light-hearted but will stun you for moments that will move you and leave an everlasting impression. Deepika has lived every bit of her character with Malti. The climax will leave you stunned and the fight is still on. We can't forget how tough it is for a woman to live and stand and fight in a misogynist world, where education is not a luxury but a necessity. This is a must-watch film.