Date of release: 10th January 2020
Director: Meghna Gulzar
Genre: Biography, drama
Watch the official trailer here
The story behind Chhapaak :
In 2005, fifteen-year-old Laxmi Agarwal’s life took a horrific turn when three men attacked her with acid while she was on her way to a bookshop in Khan Market, New Delhi.
Laxmi had rejected the advances of 32-year-old Naeem Khan who consequently along with his aides attacked her with acid.
In an interview with Daily Mail she said, “I felt as if someone had set my whole body on fire. The skin was just coming off, it was like dripping, from my hands and from my face.”
She was in hospital for three months and underwent multiple surgeries. Apart from this Laxmi also had to go through a lot of mental stress because of the general stigma around acid attack victims.
However, this only made Laxmi stronger. She was resolute in her fight for justice and reclaimed her life.
In 2006, she filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court and demanded a total ban on sale of acid.
She founded Stop Sale Acid, a social initiative against the misuse of acid. The campaign got nationwide support. Consequently, in 2013, the Supreme Court of India ruled in her favour and issued a set of restrictions on the sale of acid in the country. The same year, Laxmi also became a campaigner for Stop Acid Attacks, founded by Alok Dixit and Ashish Shukla.
Since then, Laxmi Agarwal has always been an active spokesperson in eliminating the stigma related to acid attacks. She now empowers other acid attack survivors and gives them the courage to fight for justice. Laxmi is now an inspiration for many.
She was awarded the International Women Of Courage Award in 2014 by Michelle Obama (The then-First Lady of USA).
Review of Chhapaak:
Chhapaak is a fictionalized account with the role of the protagonist, Malti, played by Deepika Padukone who delivers a phenomenal and genuine performance. She is indeed the soul of the film. There are parts of the movie where her acting just moves you. Her loud scream after she sees herself in the mirror for the first time since the attack or when she holds an earring up and realizes she can’t put it on, send shivers up your spine.
One of the highlights of the movie is the brilliant use of prosthetics and how it enhances Deepika’s transformation throughout the movie. She has a total of nine looks.
Both Vikrant Massey( Amol, the head of the NGO where Malti gets a job )and Madhurjeet Sarghi (Malti’s lawyer Archana Bajaj) also pitch in praiseworthy performances. Vikrant, who is a great actor, shows the frustrations of a committed activist with a lot of intensity.
Meghna Gulzar does a great job in portraying the moment of the attack with a lot of authenticity and understanding. The problems which Malti faces after the attack and how she rebuilds her life are handled with a lot of sensitivity.
Malti’s chemistry with Amol is depicted well. It is shown as an endearing and playful relationship.
What could have been better:
The idea to start Chhapaak in the middle doesn’t work well. The first few minutes of the movie might be a little confusing and might not grab your attention. However, once the flashback scenes begin, the movie starts to build.
The courtroom scene could use some more drama. It could also be extended a little more as some important scenes are rushed through.
Why it’s a must-watch:
In conclusion ‘ Chhaapak ’ is a film that jolts you with a few painful reminders every now and then and it’s indeed not a film that lets you go easy.
Lines such as, “Acid cold drink se sasta bikta hai” is a wake-up call for us to contemplate why we undermined the probable threat.
It is a sensitive film with subtle, yet commanding, handling of an odious crime against women, and an important story that needs to be told.
The Times of India: 3.5/5
Book My Show: 77%
Rajeev Masand: 3.5/5
Rotten Tomatoes: 86%