Thappad

wogma rating: Watch for sure, preferably in theatre (?)

quick review:

Powerful. Moving. Will empower women, might even awaken men. Real in its own way, filling you with hope.

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Director: Anubhav Sinha
Running time: 145 minutes
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Thappad - Preview

My first response to the trailer was indeed, “oh, this movie is so necessary!” And after the content sank in a couple of minutes later, I realised it is as much about the writing, the acting and the overall ordinary-life-like ambience created as it is about the social cause of domestic violence. 

Some of the dialogues both by Tapsee Pannu’s character and the characters she is talking to are totally imaginable in real life. The lady herself carries the protagonist’s grit and resolve with absolute control drawing you further into the story. The upper-middle-class milieu created feels like it is a page right out of a friend’s life. 

Of course, there is the danger of it all going flat with repetitiveness and/or no more insight into the situation than what we see in the trailer. But something tells me, it will be more, much more. Or maybe it is just hope.

Thappad releases on 28 February 2020.

- meeta, a part of the audience

A character that is so right in what she is asking for. A character that almost anyone will call unreasonable—in her story, in the audience. A character who could have taken the easy, well-accepted path of “letting go” and “compromise”, but experiences a moment of awareness that changes her world over. She lures you in with her simplicity and makes you stick around for the good fight she is fighting. And once you are so sucked in, the technicalities don’t really draw attention.

Women though might feel empowered to ask for what is theirs—their life.

Of course, the texture of the film is largely spot-on. You know a lot about the characters from the little things around them and the way people interact with each other. In fact, the ambience amplifies the deliberate choice of characters and how the differences don’t come in the way of similar experiences.

Stories of women from each socio-economic class, yet they share similar oppression. Stories of working women within each socio-economic class and the outlook of the men around them towards their income. Stories of home-makers from different age groups, pointing to both how little patriarchy has changed and how it is time for it to change.

The bewilderment of men at what is asked of them—not to slap. The disbelief that they are in the wrong. The justifications playing out in their minds for their behaviour. The realisation nakedly dawning in their eyes—that woke is not woke enough.

This last bit particularly plays out beautifully in two scenes between Amrita’s (Tapsee Pannu) parents (Kumud Mishra and Ratna Pathak Shah). One is an explicit expression of how being good wasn’t good enough, and the other is only felt in and left as Ratna’s mute expression.

As mind-bogglingly powerful and stunningly impactful as Tapsee Pannu’s performance was, the scenes between her characters’ parents are the potent ones. They say so much with both words and silence.

Such scenes along with the over-arching story leave enough of an impression, for you to be aware of, yet ignore the over-simplification and uni-dimensionality of some characters. Same goes for the convenient and rushed turn-around of characters in the second half. I also wished that they had used fewer scenes in the trailer. A few intense scenes lost the impact because I knew when to expect them in the film.

the ambience amplifies the deliberate choice of characters and how the differences don’t come in the way of similar experiences

The protagonist’s straightforward demand covers up for many of these simplifications. Some simple bits from the side characters play their bit in fascinating you by the observation. The perfect man is dead. His wife keeps his perfection alive by showing the other men their place. The man’s lawyer (Ram Kapoor) doesn’t say a word against his client, but his indifferent body language and one passing line give away what he thinks of his client. Usually, scenes such as those showing the domestic help’s moments of freedom feel out of place. But here, they add value to the narrative. Why not her? Why does class add to the normalisation of domestic violence? And of course, why is “only” one slap unacceptable?

Yes, the women all come across as helpless victims of their situations and patriarchy. But, the torch-bearer’s single-minded claim to her life, opinion, and aspirations empowers all those around her—the generation older to hers and younger, the women from financial backgrounds better than hers and worse. And I am sure a few women in the audience too.

How often do you watch a film based on a social cause that you are confident will create an impact in real-life? Naah, I am not talking about men “getting” it. I might be an idealist, but am a realist too.

Women though might feel empowered to ask for what is theirs—their life. As seen in the film, this is as applicable to daughters and sisters, as it is to wives. I am hopeful that at least some women around me in real life will feel a little less of the following sentiments, even if they aren’t yet ready to say it out loud. “mhaaro kai, mha toh gayi chulha ma” (I know, I don’t matter. Or My fate is the cinders implying my destiny is in the kitchen. Or my aspirations are burnt like the coal in the oven.) “aurton ko itna toh adjust karna padtaa hai beta” (A woman ought to adjust at least this much. Or this is the least we expect from a woman.) “jaane de na, hote rehta hai” (Let it go, shit happens.)

- meeta, a part of the audience

31 reviewers(?) - 28 yays 3 so-so 0 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Bobby Sing, Bobby Talks Cinema.com : ...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 state 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.... full review

Thumbs up, by Russel D'silva, Bollywood Life : ...There's precious little not to marvel at in Thappad. It's bound to be a extremely uncomfortable watch for several viewers, particularly couples, and it might also be tough for entire families to view together, given how close to home it's likely to hit, but that's what makes the film nothing short of a masterpiece, and a milestone in Indian cinema.... full review

Thumbs up, by Riddhima Kanetkar, DNA : ...Thappad will stay with you long after it’s over and that is a testament to its brilliant, to the point storytelling. You would want to stop and ask yourself, “Thappad. Bas itni si baat? (A slap. That’s it?).”... full review

Thumbs up, by Anupama Chopra, Film Companion : ...I can guarantee that this scene will make you cry. Because Thappad isn’t just about Amrita or Vikram. It indicts all of us. This film compels us to question our complicity. Which is the first step to change. I strongly recommend that you see Thappad.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rahul Desai, Film Companion : ...The film understands Amrita, and Taapsee Pannu, too. It understands the modesty of her desires and personality of her actions. Thappad, after all, opens with the ultimate image of desi domesticity: A wife brewing tea and cooking parathas. It closes with an identical image, except this time it’s a woman brewing tea and cooking parathas. Somewhere in between, an identity comes full circle. Somewhere in between, everything has changed, but little will change.... full review

Thumbs up, by Devesh Sharma, Filmfare : ...Hat's off to director Anubhav Sinha for making yet another well-meaning and powerful film asking all the right questions. It's 2020 and it's a shame that it has taken this long to say that even one slap shouldn't be tolerated.... full review

Thumbs up, by Madhuri V, Filmi Beat : ...In one of the sequences in the film, Piyush Mishra tells Taapsee Pannu, "Kahi baar sahi karne ka result happy nahi hota," when the latter hesitatingly asks him if she is right with her choice of decision. Just the same way, Thappad too, dares to question the deep-rooted patriarchy and societal norms. But thankfully, it manages to hit the right notes to start a dialogue when it comes to calling out the wrong and unfair notions in the society.... full review

Thumbs up, by Anna MM Vertticad, FirstPost : ...And my goodness, the way that slap is presented! Like a bucket of ice being hurled on a sleeping human, or thunder that could end any reverie. Very much like the film itself.... full review

Thumbs up, by Shubha Shetty Saha, Free Press Journal : ...This is a movie worth watching because it gives a new perspective to an age-old issue.... full review

Thumbs up, by T J Reddy, fullhyd.com : ...However, one can see the growth of Anubhav Sinha as a serious filmmaker from Ra.One to Mulk, from Mulk to Article 15 and from Article 15 to Thappad. We hope there comes a day when he puts all his learning into one excellently crafted movie about the society we live in, but until then good enough will have to suffice.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vishal Verma, Glamsham.com : ...Ek thappad hi toh hai.. par nahi maar sakta. Anubhav Sinha’s fictional story about a woman who shockingly gets slapped in the middle of an ongoing party, is not just about a slap, a powerful indictment of the condition/restrictions/neglect/ women face in our society, a story of women empowerment/call for respect/justice, it’s an overwhelming adage on relationship and power of good virtues and humanity . Advertisement... full review

Thumbs up, by Monika Rawal Kukreja, Hindustan Times : ...Taapsee Pannu and Anubhav Sinha’s film will stay with you and make you question the status quo. One of the most powerful films to come out this year.... full review

Thumbs up, by Nairita Mukherjee, india today : ...Anubhav Sinha completes a trilogy, of sorts, touching upon religion, caste and gender with Mulk (2018), Article 15 (2019) and now Thappad. Two of these three have been in collaboration with Taapsee, and the ease that this director-actor duo shares, shows on screen.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonal Gera, India TV : ...Watch 'Thappad' -- for Taapsee Pannu, for Anubhav Sinha, for Pavail Gulati's debut, and to just cry at the package of irony the societal system is. And probably for having this internalised -- darr toh thappad se hi lagna chahiye... **Oohhhh! What an Anubhav!**... full review

Thumbs up, by R.M. Vijayakar, India West : ...The songs are meant not to matter, but Mangesh Dhakde’s background score is odd and often incongruous, though happily not intrusive. The technical side is fine. On the whole, this is one of those films where the line, made famous many years ago by Amitabh Bachchan in an orange cola ad, rings true—“Zor ka dhakka dheere se lage (The solid impact comes gradually).” The impact of the film increases the more you think about it. And I loved that optimistic note at the end.... full review

Thumbs up, by Shubhra Gupta, indian express : ...But there is not a shred of doubt that Sinha has made an important, crucial film, which shows up centuries of male entitlement for what it is. And how all it takes, from a woman who just wants self-respect, is a decision to say no, Not Even One Slap.... full review

Thumbs up, by Umesh Punwani, koimoi : ...All said and done, the impact left by this ‘Thappad’ is eternal. It questions a social stigma that’s bothering around 80% of the women, leaving us men think of what are we even doing? A riveting watch!... full review

Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, MiD DAY : ...It's what the film revolves on, yes. But it occurs with hardly the sense of occasion you'd accord such a moment. It's like that scene from Shoojit Sircar's October, when the girl casually falls off that ledge, but the whole film is about it. It's a thappad. Just. A thappad. Or as the film's tagline says, "Bas itni si baat?" Well that is the whole point, isn't it?... full review

Thumbs up, by Vinamra Mathur, MiD DAY : ...And it was also important to make a film where the slap may have been for the woman, but it indirectly hints towards all those who think misogyny in movies is fine. No, we need better heroes!... full review

Thumbs up, by Kunal Guha, Mumbai Mirror : ...Thappad is an essential and educational watch for a society which deserves a tight, resounding one on the cheek for dismissing such acts as ‘one-off episodes’, incapable of having life-altering ramifications.... full review

Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...Thappad hits home. Hard. It stings. It is unmissable.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rajeev Masand, News18.com : ...It’s a hard subject to pull off, but Anubhav Sinha achieves it with first-rate storytelling. The best films inspire dialogue, they set you thinking; they can even lead to change. This one made me uncomfortable; it made me question myself and I think it will make you too. It’s essential viewing.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vaibhavi V Risbood, Pinkvilla : ...A film is a mere reflection of society. And the moment you conjure the courage to face it by sliding aside those rose-tinted glasses, reality hits you. At one juncture, the engraved sexism of the audience appals them to counter it with unjustifiable justification. Film Thappad is no less. It’s a beautiful depiction of what exists in society. But more critical is its soul which clamours for what must be mended. Frankly, it’s on the audience to understand the gravity of the issue. A solution, for some, might lie in using a plaster, and for others, a surgery.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...My hope is all the Vikrams of the world watch it. I don't know if Thappad will put a dent on male entitlement, inspire men to behave better or uproot patriarchy. It may not change anything at all but even if it convinces women to walk out of toxic relationships, it will be half a battle won.... full review

Thumbs up, by Vinayak Chakravorty, Sify Movies : ...Still, "Thappad" resonates with impact. It is without a doubt one of the finer films you will see this year, simply because it tackles a difficult and powerful subject with credibility. A cast of proven talents excels in well-crafted roles, toplined by Taapsee Pannu's career-defining act.... full review

Thumbs up, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...It’s at the fag end, in its needless effort to rehabilitate the offenders and turn them abruptly and handily penitent, that the film wobbles but thankfully doesn’t get entirely derailed. On the one hand it holds the more widely palatable but disconcerting possibility of reconciliation, on the other is a simultaneous overriding assurance that it’s not the same Amrita we are leaving the theatre with than the one introduced to us at the start. She has come a long way.... full review

Thumbs up, by Priyanka Roy, The Telegraph : ...Thappad is a soul-searching, layered and slow-burn watch that is bound to trigger off conversations. Every part of it — and not just the slap — stings, because most of it rings true. Women, please watch it. Men, you need to watch it.... full review

Thumbs up, by Pallabi Dey Purkayastha, Times of India : ...To sum it up, 'Thappad' is a silent slap on our society's age-old belief — shaadi mein sab kuch chalta hain. But, honestly, should it be that way? And that is what we need to start talking about... now!... full review

So-So, by Deepa Gahlot, Deepa Gahlot : ...Rather conveniently, Sinha goes for a sort of happy—though open-ended– climax to the story. Thappad raises a few valid questions but leaves so many unanswered. There is also a simplistic series of epiphanies that hit the other characters in the film who are involved with Amrita’s troubles, as if one couple’s divorce is such a rare occurrence that it shakes the foundations of other lives. Most films about women who walk out of bad marriages do not go into the aftermath, or ask : How will the newly single woman support herself and her child? How will she survive with dignity in a society so skewed against women? Maybe Thappad needs a sequel. One must also note the tokenism of the director and every male technician adding his mother’s name before his surname in the opening credits. Is it temporary or permanent?... full review

So-So, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...In the absence of brevity, there’s uncommon restraint, both in staging and performance, and the kind of quiet hurt that Hindi cinema doesn’t often access. When Amrita says “Perhaps I turned myself into the kind of the person who could be slapped," it’s with a rueful self-awareness that understands why the women in Awaara and Kabir Singh respond to violence with more love.... full review

So-So, by Nandini Ramnath, Scroll.in : ...The bloated runtime of 141 minutes packs in many necessary truths, especially about the pernicious nature of patriarchy and the manner in which women enable discrimination. The overall message, of heeding the conscience even if it pricked just once, survives the needless wandering.... full review

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: One slap. But maybe one kids should watch.
  • Language: Clean
  • Nudity & Sexual content: One scene with rough making out.
  • Concept: When a woman says enough.
  • General Look and Feel: Carries the spark of day-to-day life.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Direction:
Story:
Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Dialogues:
Screenplay:
Music Director:
Lyrics:

Thappad - Cast, crew, links

Official Sites:
Director:
Running time:
145 minutes
Reviewer:
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Comments (5)

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Anupam

Not seen the movie. But surprised by your recommendation that kids should watch it. It might be out of context of the movie, but in today’s day and age, too much is made of women empowerment. There are enough Amber Heards around, if one just opens their eyes. Probably men need saving too.

@Anupam Kids should watch it because kids also witness domestic violence and mental harrassment.
Kids should watch it to know that
- even one slap is not ok
- even one act of "putting down" is not ok
- even a belief that people are supporting each other unnecessarily when one of them has gone through one of the above is not ok

People who think one-odd slap is ok, don't need saving.
People who think they can put another person down because they think the latter couldn't have been successful without them don't need saving.
People who think others are being unreasonable in supporting those who have gone through the above don't need saving.

Anupam

Again, not seen the movie. My point is simply this - its traumatic for the children to see violence within home which has the potential of scarring them for life. Violence in any form inside or outside is not okay. But probably its too simplistic to take sides. While domestic violence may be a sad reality in our society, our/all society also treat women with an implicit trust which is not considered prerogative of men. Domestic violence (mental/physical) is also suffered by men continuously. That is also a reality. May be more mental than physical. But making a movie about that won't sell, would it? See, its a narrative of powerful versus the powerless where any gender can be powerful depending on the perceived weakness of the powerless. For example, a persons (husband/wife) willingness to go on in a relationship for the sake of children can be continuously exploited by the other party. Likewise for older parents who keep to themselves for the sake of not creating issues in sons/daughters home inspite of the care they need. So, when you talk about men not "getting" it, it feels a bit female chauvinistic. And also disrespectful to scores of loving and caring men who would do anything for their family.

Support a family not a cause.

BTW, your comment box is too small.

I think this discussion will be more meaningful after you have seen the film @Anupam

Meanwhile, I haven't once mentioned gender in my comment.

Your point: "Domestic violence (mental/physical) is also suffered by men continuously. That is also a reality. May be more mental than physical. But making a movie about that won't sell, would it?"

Films like "Pyaar ka Panchnaama" are made and sell well too. Sure, it is difficult to take them seriously. The question then to ask, is why are serious films about mental harassment of men not made? There seems to be a market for them. So, that is not the problem.

You should be able to see a draggable triangle on the right-bottom corner of the comment box to make it bigger. If you cannot, I would really appreciate it if you could send me a screenshot at [email protected] Thank you.

Anupam

@meeta, Usually I check out your reviews/summaries even if I don't plan to watch a movie just to keep track of whats going on. This one felt a bit one sided. Hence the posts. In any case, thanks for replying and keep up the good work.

Comment box resizing works. Thanks.

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