Actors: Taapsee Pannu, Pavail Gulati, Tanvi Azmi, Ratna Pathak Shah and Dia Mirza
Director: Anubhav Sinha
When does a slap resonate to such a high decibel that it shakes up the very foundations of a seemingly tranquil home? For an answer to that question, you have to watch this provocative new film - available on online platforms, given that the shutters on cinemas are yet to lift from the coronavirus lockdown.
Amrita (Pannu) is a smart, caring and cheerful housewife in an upper middle-class Indian family home. We are introduced to her as a sprightly young woman who is able to find joy even in the most mundane daily chores, while balancing all the needs of her demanding husband Vikram (Gulati) and loving mother-in-law Sulakshana (Azmi). She seems quite in love and therefore content playing second fiddle to her over-ambitious hubby.
Given that the slap is in the very title of this film, it would not be a spoiler to say that it is when she gets slapped in a very public and humiliating way that the seemingly idyllic set-up of her domestic bliss begins to unravel. The string of events it sets in motion prove beyond even her control after a point.
This is the kind of film that will make you reassess your own moral compass. It will leave you with numerous questions long after the end credits have rolled. You will find yourself weighing up the justification behind certain actions of the lead characters and that in itself will bring with it a new kind of self-realisation.
The real success of this feature, besides a tight edit and some top-notch acting skills, lies in its ability to trigger a sense of disquiet and unease. At the core lie some very basic issues of patriarchy and male chauvinism that continue to permeate 21st century lives, albeit in very covert forms. However, 'Thappad' will shake you up beyond this core - the kind of cinematic shake-up that is well worth a watch.