Cast: Deepika Padukone, Vikrant Massey, Ankit Bisht
There are very few filmmakers who can handle a film with sensitivity so much so it seeps into the heart of the audience, plays with their emotions and creates a riot within. But, that’s how one must be made to feel. A sensitive film is rare to find, almost a gem and women directors just bring that essence out wonderfully. Be it Sudha K Prasad with Irudhi Suttru, be it Halitha Shameem with Sillu Karupatti, be it Anjali Menon with Koode and now be it Meghna Gulzar with Chhapaak – just the way they treat a storyline with so much care and conscious only goes to show the kind of craft they are aiming to put forth.
19-year-old Malti is ambitious about her life, she has big dreams and just has a lot planned out to live her life to the fullest, just like every other ambitious woman is. She suddenly finds her life coming to a standstill when she finds herself in excruciating pain. She screams not being able to bear the burns on her face and hand as a result of an acid attack. Her journey from agony, tears and merely trying to cope up with her physical and mental health to fighting for her and every other acid-attack survivor’s Right is simply astounding. This film tells the real-life tale of acid attack survivor and social activist Laxmi Agarwal. The scenes where Malti is attacked and the first time she looks at her disfigured face in the mirror just creates a deep pain to anyone watching it. However, the film has its light-hearted moments, beautiful scenes that make us smirk – these moments reflect Laxmi’s character too.
The film has been treated with so much compassion that we can find ourselves in the shoes of Malti, we are able to feel her pain, sense her anguish and shed happy tears for the subtle love, the massive yet humble successes and most of all, her journey in itself. When director Meghna Gulzar directed Raazi with so many emotions, it was concluded that that’s the best that could be done but she has just reached yet another level with Chhapaak in terms of treating a film with emotions, empathy, and kindliness skillfully and who better than Deepika Padukone to do it?
There is no way one could visualise Deepika in the film, there is only Malti, there is no actress, there is just this young fighter who will not give up no matter what. This would easily be Deepika’s career-best performance. Vikrant Massey is beautiful and charming as the supporting character. He does justice to his role. The songs and the background scores are subtle without stealing the show and the cinematography is simple yet exceptional in terms of frames and lighting.
But, this film leaves you with a heavy heart. Malti may have gotten her happy ending but hers is not the only story the film concentrates upon. You know that the struggle is never-ending, that women are still succumbing to injuries and they are facing the wrath of saying NO.
Verdict: You don’t want to watch it but you still want to.