Deepika Padukone is an undeniable force in Bollywood, an incredible actress who has put a spotlight on the plight of acid attack survivor with her production Chhapaak.
The film, which marks Deepika’s debut in production, ensures that the audience walks away with a deeper understanding of the steps they can take in their own lives to be part of the change its makers are seeking to achieve.
Directed by Meghna Gulzar and written by Atika Chohan, Chhapaak might not erase the social stigma associated with acid attack overnight, but it will definitely provide every viewer with a brand new perspective on how to think and talk about the subject.
Played by Deepika, Malti (inspired from acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal) is scarred for life after she is attacked with acid by a man, who she refuses to marry. But she finds strength from her tortuous ordeal, inspiring hundreds of other women to come forward with their own horror stories about acid attacks.
Chhapaak is a brutal reminder of what some scenes describe as “the complete lack of empathy” shown towards the acid attack survivors. But as disturbing as the film is, it is a testament to the power and strength of these survivors who don’t identify themselves as victims.
Deepika adroitly sprinkles magic into her astonishingly authentic, honest portrayal of Malti. Throughout the film, she remains focussed on the empowering potential of her character and proves she is one of the finest actresses of her generation.
What makes Chhapaak all the more empowering is that it’s directed, headlined, written and produced by women, indicating that they are finally making their way into the social-impact storytellings on terms other than those defined by men.