"Thappad presents the arguments of both the man and the woman equally," Taapsee Pannu on her latest film
It's just a slap. But the slap on Amrita’s face changes her life and that of her entire family. The premise of Anubhav Sinha’s latest film, Thappad, featuring Taapsee Pannu in the lead, is that simple. However, the story digs deep into the patriarchal mindset of Indian society. The film’s trailer, released a few weeks ago, created a stir online with over 18 million views and counting.
Taapsee’s filmography predominantly features movies that question set norms of the society, and Thappad belongs to this category of films. Talking about what drew her to the story, the actress recollects, “Anubhav (Sinha) sir and I discussed Thappad during Mulk promotions. I was quite triggered by this idea, because I have always wanted to work on a film on this subject. I have seen so many women go through domestic violence, but none of them want to speak out. People think it happens only in the lower-strata of society. It’s not true. I requested Anubhav sir to set this film in an upper middle-class family to show that this issue exists even in educated homes.”
Thappad, like all of Anubhav’s films, presents both sides of the story. It is the story of a loving couple. But the husband vents out his anger on his wife, for no fault of hers, and that’s when the latter stands up for herself. The film doesn’t just put across the wife’s perspective. “It shows both the man’s point of view and the woman’s point of view, equally. Although the protagonist is Amrita, the film presents the arguments of both the man and the woman equally,” explains Taapsee.
Exchange of ideas
The actress also reveals that she didn’t have to look for references to prepare for Amrita’s role. She adapted to it easily because she has witnessed domestic violence cases often. “It’s quite rampant in society, and it’s happening in close proximity. I have seen enough people who have been through it. I prepared for the role through discussions with the director. It was the same process during Mulk. For Thappad, we discussed Amrita’s role and scenes. Anubhav sir wrote drafts of the character and sent it to me. I read those drafts, made notes and sent it back to him. We discussed ideas, agreed and disagreed on a few things. Her character is the complete opposite of me. Amrita gives her husband a lot of chances, she is white as a character. I have a lot of grey shades. I don’t think I would have been that patient with a man,” offers the actress.
Although Thappad is perceived to be a commentary on society, audiences have compared it to Kabir Singh on social media, because of the ‘slap’. But Taapsee, who has always been frank, objective and balanced in her views clarifies, “We are heading towards gender neutrality. Kabir Singh was from a man’s point of view, but it is wrong to reduce it entirely to that one slap. Yes, that slap didn’t go down well with a lot of us. But the film did well, and we cannot ignore other factors that worked for it. However, you cannot ridicule and trivialise Thappad, saying it is an answer to the other movie. The makers of Kabir Singh believed in that kind of love, and we believe there is no love without respect. Both are two different narratives, and both exist in the same industry, at the same time.”
Taapsee is unafraid to speak her mind, and this reflects in her choice of films, and also on her social media handles, particularly when she offers fitting replies to trolls. But the actress reveals, “I don’t have the patience to reply to trolls. I reply only when I have some time to spare. If I’m stuck in traffic, and I have something humorous in my mind, then I reply, just to entertain myself and my followers.”
Going forward, the actress has a busy year. Taapsee is currently shooting for Haseen Dillruba and a Tamil film by I Ahmed. Next, she starts shooting for Rashmi Rocket, Loop Lapeta (the official adaptation of Run Lola Run) and Shabaash Mithu, which is a biopic of cricketer Mithali Raj. “I have signed six new films after listening to 60 scripts. I don’t let go of a good script. I have worked really hard in the last 10 years to achieve what I am today. People wait for my dates, and write scripts keeping me in mind. I may not be the first or second choice, I may even be the last choice, but people still come to me with unique roles,” signs off the actress on a confident note.