By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 10, 2020
Rating: 2.5 / 5
The essence: Chhappak is not entirely gripping, yet is socially relevant. Full marks for Deepika for stepping out of her comfort zone and embracing a challenging role.
To come to a point of triumph, there’s tremendous pain you have to endure. Deepika Padukone’s Malti does just that. And after the victory [if you may call that], we have this line in the end credit which says: “Acid is still freely brought and sold in India.”
So all the fight was for nothing!
Chhappak is not a biography (as we are told) but it is modelled on the line of an acid attack survivor, Laxmi, whose name has been changed to Malti in the movie. Throughout the film, Meghna Gulzar has this one tone that never leaves the screen giving it that edge of reality—the courtroom, the homes and the streets have been captured realistically.
And though this is a Deepika Padukone film all the way, we have important characters that make their presence felt and lend a hue to the script, giving weightage to what is happening in and around Malti. There’s this brother of hers played by Delzad Hiwale who stands out for simply blending with the screenplay. Even when he is lying on the hospital bed, sick, he captures the mood and moment of the family and the pain they are going through, through his own hell. Whenever he comes on screen, he moves you with his plight.
There’s also Amol (Vikrant Massey), who heads the NGO that works for Acid attack victims, who stands shoulder to shoulder with Deepika in every frame, pulling the story towards him a wee bit before letting her take centrestage yet again.
There’s also Bashir Shaikh aka Babbu bhaiya (Vishal Dahiya) a 30-year-old friend of the family who is besotted by the 19-year-old Malti, who initiates the acid attack along with his female friend. The sheer nonchalance in which they do it is captured vividly by Meghna.
Then there’s Deepika Padukone, the soul of the film who sashays the role of an acid victim to draw empathy from you. Her make-up is terrific; her body language and clinging to the role, perfect. She brings Malti alive on screen. Moreover, for someone who has always played the glamorous role, she excels as she lets the warmth in her eyes communicate her inner feelings.
What mars the film for me is the love angle towards the end. It is felt throughout without making it obvious. And it’s beautiful. Meghna should have left it at that rather than go for an awkward lip lock!
In one scene, Malti tells Amol she envies the girl who just died after an acid attack. “What’s there to envy,” he asks her surprised.
“At least she does not have to go through seven surgeries and countless trips to the courts,” she answers.
Meghna Gulzar is not exactly in Raazi (2018) form, but she hems a poignant plot without wanting sympathy for the subject.
Producer: Fox Star Studios, Mriga Films, KA Productions
Director: Meghna Gulzar
Star Cast: Deepika Padukone, Vikrant Massey, Vishal Dahiya, Delzad Hiwale