appad written and directed by Anubhav Sinha came into theatres on the 28th of February. Tapsee Pannu is the essence of the film, apart from her it stars Ratna Pathak Shah, Kumud Mishra, Pavail Gulati, Dia Mirza, Maya Sarao, Tanvi Azmi, Geetika Vidya Ohlyan among others. The film opened with 3.07 crores.
The first 10 minutes of the movie for anyone who hasn’t seen the trailer would paint an image of a happy housewife in upper middle-class home. The repeated visuals of waking up, collecting the morning milk, making tea for her husband and testing her Mother in law for blood sugar show a mundane existence for Amrita, whose life revolves around her family so much so she has forgotten about herself. In her dialogue “London ja rhi hu, isse aage kya jyugi?” She has forgotten her sense of self and frankly, that’s the core of the film. It’s not a feminist agenda or activist film but a simple film about patriarchy so deeply rooted in a society where marriage is nothing but a social construct and sacrifice is everyday normal.
It’s not just a story of Taapsee’s Amrita, but a story of multiple women cutting across class and castes. You get a slight peak in everyone’s life, it’s all the same, the male privilege is as invisible as female labour that all the housewives do for their families.
It is only when you start reading between the lines or when you are ‘slapped’ in your face, everything becomes clear. How the house-help has an abusive husband, how the highly acclaimed lawyer in her real life is a victim of marital rape, how the father who is there for his daughter and is not willing to not let his daughter compromise was blind to the compromises of his wife.
Pavail Gulati did an excellent job playing the clueless husband who expects his wife to let go of that one mistake. But is it just one mistake? That one thappad is a collection of everything wrong with the power dynamics in a relationship. It is even more evident when Vikram, Amrita’s husband decides to gift her a diamond bracelet in place of an apology showing the still held popular belief you can buy a woman’s love.
The women on other hand are put on a pedestal the minute they are born, “Tum devi ho”, this title of a devi comes with immense responsibility, that of the entire family, the happiness of everyone around you. The word Homemaker itself suggests, it is the wife who is solely responsible for adjusting, suffering and at the end sustaining a relationship. Her happiness dissolves into the happiness of her family.
The movie threads on the line between the realistic portrayal of society for some to a melodrama for others. The dialogues are power-packed and will make you question the world you live in and the society you are part of, your perception of normal might shake a little bit, it’s not made for women to take up the cause of feminism and unleash a war cry on the Institution of marriage, as it is evident in dialogue exchange between Pavail and Kumud Mishra “kya karoon hogya na ab? ” “jaruri yeh sawal hai ki aisa hua kyu?” The film wants you to think about what is wrong with this Institution of marriage and work towards improving it.
You might at times feel it’s stretched out a bit and there are too many characters forming a sort of cobweb you find yourself lost in at times. The premise of the husband living away from her uber-rich family and the comatose father in law whose legacy is carried by his daughter in law is not well established which you may find that a little too much is packed all together.
At the end, thappad has something for both the genders, for women it sends a message of keeping your foot down, to never forget yourself and to men to look within themselves, for even the ‘wokest’ of them all have some patriarchy conditioned into their thinking which surfaces as entitlement time to time.