It is not new that a movie which resembles a social fact has finally released. In fact, movies that reflect certain social facts of our society have become a sui generis now with the passage of time. Well, one such movie which has successfully managed to gain the attention of the public, due to myriad of reasons, is Chhapaak… If we look back and ponder upon the movies that Bollywood presented to the decade we bade adieu recently, what we get to observe is that biopic has gradually become a trend. Movies such as Pan Singh Tomar (2012), Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013), Shahid (2013), Mary Kom (2014), M.S Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016), Neerja (2016), Sarabjit (2016), Dangal (2016), Thackeray (2019), PM Narendra Modi (2019), et al. exemplifies how directors and producers have inculcated a hobby of marketing a real-life story. Some of these movies tried to eulogise a personality, some even intended to create a personality cult, but yes, there are then those movies as well that attempted to manifest the struggles of specific individuals. Chhapaak precisely falls under this category.
This movie is an original story of Laxmi Agarwal – an acid attack victim turning into an activist – who handles all the ordeals she goes through, after an acid attack on her, to get justice. The movie shows how her perseverance eventually compels the judiciary of India to ban the sale of acids in shops. The movie has been directed by Meghna Gulzar, and the lead role has been played by Deepika Padukone.
Tendency to Communalise
Some groups have alleged that the director of this movie has deliberately changed the name of the acid attacker – from a Muslim to a Hindu name. However, these claims later found out to be invalid. Whatever the case may be, the point that this movie is trying to make has nothing to do with the religious identity of an acid attacker, but to realise the fact that such injuries hurt the soul of every human being. The attackers who commit this heinous crime and the victims struggling in their everyday life echoes the story of the two diametrically opposite extremes of human nature. After all, an acidic compound never asks about one’s religion before producing its effect.
No, I don’t feel that such incidents have anything to do with religion. Because the violence of acids is not just limited to India alone. There have been many documentaries and cinemas that prove repeatedly the same fact: acid is just a weapon for taking revenge. The real issue lies with the thought of harming someone. Documentaries like Saving Face (2012), Acid Attack: My Story (2018), Scarred (2014), and others indicate that this issue persists outside the territory of India as well, though the rates of attack might vary.
Solidarity of the Conscience
At the risk of being branded as a moralist, I am sharing my opinion here. Yes, I am nobody to direct anybody regarding anything. Yet, I personally feel that the spirit of an artist is often fueled by his milieu. The structure of the society, its vicissitudes, along with its absurdities, provide the flame an artist require. This is the reason why the most grotesque aspect of the Indian film industry today is that the art of this industry, like our society itself, has failed to renounce the feudal remnants of our past. One such attitude is to keep oneself callous and to call this weakness as ‘safety’.
Indeed, this safety secures one’s position in society but makes the spirit decay. I don’t know the real motive of Deepika Padukone behind her visit in JNU. But by doing this she has fulfilled her responsibility as a celebrity. Her decision to show her solidarity with the conscience of the students of JNU can be inferred as a reflection of the spirit of the character she is playing in her movie.
Chhapaak is the rarest of the rare movie in Bollywood. These movies not only bring out the pain and agony of those who become victims of acid attack in their earlier age, but also shows the courage and bravery one requires to return back to a normal life. Therefore, this movie will certainly help the victims to articulate their pain and endeavours, and will also help spread awareness about this issue.
I wish the entire crew of this movie a remarkable success, and I hope you will certainly enjoy this movie.