In the last few years, the incidents of acid attacks in the country have reached their peak. This issue is still a matter of deep concern today how dangerous and deadly substance like acid becomes so easily available. Although films have been made on many burning issues in Bollywood, but this topic has remained untouched till now. And now veteran filmmaker Meghna Gulzar, who has made films like Raazi and Talwar, has taken the initiative to showcase the issue on the silver screen with Deepika Padukone’s lead role in Chhapaak, which released in theaters this week. So will this effort of Meghna Gulzar work and open people’s eyes or will she fail in her endeavor? Let’s review.
Chhapaak depicts the story of an acid attack survivor’s struggle. Malti (Deepika Padukone) is a 19-year-old girl who is attacked by acid on a street in Delhi. The people present there immediately take him to the hospital. Malti’s face burns badly due to this acid attack. But Malti is determined to put the criminals behind the bars. Despite not being able to speak properly at the time of the incident, she informs the police the names of the acid attackers who are Bashir Sheikh alias Babbu (Vishal Dahiya) and his sister Parveen. The police arrest both and Bablu confesses that he threw acid on Malti. Surprisingly, Bablu was Malti’s family friend and after this attack he went to the hospital several times. Malti’s lawyer Archana Bajaj (Madhurta Sargi) gets a tough fight in court, but Bablu manages to get bail on some grounds or the other. Archana also pleads with the court that the culprit should be given the strictest punishment. At the same time, Malti also files a petition in the court that the easily available acid should be banned. What happens next after this will be known after watching the rest of the film.
Chhapaak is a film based on real life incident which is going to shake. It also proves to be an eye opener as not many people are aware of the seriousness of the condition and this acid is so easily available in India. Atika Chauhan and Meghna Gulzar’s screenplay, however, is inconsistent. There are some scenes in the film where it attracts more. The film does not connect emotionally and the writing is also weak, due to which the impact of the film is reduced. Atika Chauhan and Meghna’s dialogues are sharp.
Meghna Gulzar’s direction is strictly fine. Talwar and Raazi did well not only because of the good story but also for the excellent execution. But when it comes to Chhapaak, Meghna did not appear in top form. The idea of starting the film from the middle of the narrative doesn’t work. Malti’s struggle is progressing only to an extent. A lot could have been done here but Meghna just focused more on a few key scenes. This is clearly visible in the courtroom sequence. Also, an important track is of Malti’s brother (Delzad Hiwale), but this episode was not given much attention. Nothing is told afterwards as to what happened to the brother and Malti’s father (Manohar Teli). Had Meghna really given her best here, considering the potential of the story, Chhapaak would have been a box office success.
Chhapaak begins on a very dry note. The audience is unable to connect with the film for the first 10-15 minutes. The film picks up pace from there when the flashback scene starts. The most impressive scene of the first half is where Malti looks at her face in the mirror for the first time since the acid attack, and Archana encourages Malti to fight. The courtroom scene is captivating, but wish there was more drama. In the second half, the romantic track doesn’t work out much. And then there are moments in which it is not known where the film is going. Meghna saves another flashback scene in the climax and then the film moves to a different level from here.
Deepika Padukone plays such a complex part with great depth. She plays her character very well and the scene where acid is thrown on her face she plays it well. But in most of the scenes, she does not show much emotion which is clearly visible. Looks like she would have done something in these scenes that would have made her performance better. Vikrant Massey looks great and delivers really good performance. But sadly, the author ignored them. Madhur Jeet is an important part of Sargi and she plays it gracefully. She looks quite confident in the courtroom scenes. Vishal Dahiya delivers a brilliant performance. Delzad Hivale is devastated. Payal Nair (Shiraz) and Vaibhavi Upadhyay (Minakshi) are fine. Manohar Teli is fine and he is worth watching in the scene where he secretly drinks alcohol. The actor who plays Parveen looks great in the courtroom scene.
Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s music is not memorable. The title track is well entwined in an important scene. ‘Nok Jhok’ and ‘Khullen Do’ are average. The background score of Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Tubi is slightly better.
The cinematographer of Malay Prakash is proper. Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray’s production design is neat. Abhilasha Sharma’s costumes are realistic, especially those worn by Deepika. Shrikant Desai’s hairstyle and makeup are splendid and the prosthetic has also been used very well. Nitin Baid’s editing is inconsistent.
Overall, Chhapaak is a daring attempt to highlight an important issue and the crime that exists in our society. The film will struggle at the box office as it is not a commercial film. Its box office collection will be restricted to a limited segment of multiplexes.