Domestic violence and the threshold of compromise - Thappad!
Where a married woman should compromise, and where she shouldn’t? Why the onus of compromises has always been on the women? Thappad by Anubhav Sinha explores these complicated, challenging questions.
Amritha (Tapsee) loves reading and dancing. Despite her interests, Amritha should serve as a ‘full-time wife’ and take care of her husband’s needs. There’s a shot of newspaper at the doorstep, followed by an alarm clock; Amritha wakes up, prepares coffee with finely chopped lemon grass; she then captures the morning hues in her smartphone. She assists her husband until he gets into his car, and gives him his wallet and lunch. This is the portrayal of the desirable, ‘significant other’ sought by men.
However everything goes haywire soon. Her frustrated husband slaps her in front of everyone at a party. Amritha is shattered. After brief contemplation, she leaves her in law’s home and files a divorce. ‘She filed a divorce just because he slapped her?’ If this question pops up on your mind, then Thappad is a film you should watch.
Taapsee has done complete justice to her meaty role. What Amritha says to her compassionate mother-in-law at the end is intended at every woman. “I didn’t love him after that incident, but whatever he did before that incident was full of love. Hence, I don’t want his alimony.” It felt like it was quoted towards every man.
The narration doesn’t end at Amritha. It is also about the happy and vibrant life of Amritha’s mother; A neighbour who still grieves and lives in the memory of her loving, caring husband; the housemaid who is a victim of domestic violence; the strong, no-nonsense lawyer who gives in to her husband’s patriarchal thoughts - the narration touches the lives of all the women who were woven into this story. Director Anubhav Sinha, who portrayed Hindu - Muslim conflict in ‘Mulk’ and caste-based discrimination and violence in ‘Article 15’, has slapped Patriarchy with Thappad.
Every woman who decides to end her married life is asked to compromise at least once. This is no way lesser than calling a woman who was harassed at a workplace as ‘impractical’. Tolerating men has become a solidified doctrine that every woman should follow. But we cannot see a frustrated woman slapping her husband at a public forum or a drunk woman attempting to harass a man!
Thappad leaves us with a deep and powerful message. It is a mistake even when you slap your significant other at a heightened frustration. Apologise for the mistake committed, make sure it doesn’t happen in the future, and rectify what has been done. The absurd outrage and imbecile attempt at physical violence are not men’s enduring prerogative.