Chhapaak trailer: Scarred but not for life, Deepika Padukone embodies Laxmi Agarwal’s fighting spirit

The Meghna Gulzar directed film is based on the story of acid attack victim and social activist Laxmi Agarwal

By Mayur Lookhar

Deepika Padukone in Chhapaak (2020)

To say that rape is just one of the heinous crimes committed against women, only (embarrassingly) highlights the many dangers that women in India face DAILY. And that is no exaggeration. Through each decade, especially in the 1980s, 1990s, one was left shocked by the spate of acid attacks on women often by jilted Romeos. These monsters didn’t just attack them physically, but they want their victims to be scarred for life. A patriarchal, beauty obsessed society only compounded a victim’s woes.

Talvar [2015] and Raazi [2018] director Meghna Gulzar has based her next Chhapaak [2020] on the story of one such victim.  Chhapaak is based on the life and struggle of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal.   Agarwal was only 15 when a 32-year-old man named Guddu threw acid on her face all because she had refused his advances.  The horrific attack left Laxmi scarred for life but it didn’t break her soul. Laxmi would later start a social campaign ‘stop acid sale’ which received global support. 

Gulzar tells Agarwal’s story through the eyes of Malti [Deepika Padukone].  “Unhone meri surat badli hain, mera mann nahin” (He changed my face but not my heart). The words by Malti embody the fighting spirit of Laxmi Agarwal.

Gulzar’s story  will not just cover Malti’s individual battle, but it will also throw light on the social cause that she initiated to prevent acid attacks.  And it will also celebrate the love story with fellow activist Amol (Vikrant Massey) – inspired by the love story between Agarwal and social activist Alok Dixit. More importantly, it showcases the horror that such victim go through in a patriarchal society that is often obsessed with beauty.  Malti shows great spirit to rise against all such barriers to tell her inspirational story.

Padukone had already earned respect by picking such a subject.  The trailer spells out its cause clearly. A subject like this ought to be treated with great sensitivity. Gulzar has a good track record here as proven in Talvar and Raazi. It’s important to never get carried away while dealing with such subjects. The trailer does suggest that Gulzar’s principal characters don’t get carried away by its emotional story line. There is despair but there is also a strong will to fight.  That is the true essence of Chhapaak.

It’s a maiden film together for Padukone and Massey.  The latter is one of most acclaimed actors and fans will look forward to their chemistry.  

Produced by Fox Star Studios, Chhapaak is set to be released on 10 January where it will compete with Ajay Devgn’s Tanhaji.

Watch the trailer of Chhapaak below.

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