Anubhav Sushila Sinha fits into that exceptional variety of film-makers that opens up thought-processes without losing the cinematic elements that constitute a film. Right from Mulk (2018) to Article 15 (2019), Anubhav Sinha's body of work stands out from the rest.
There are two kinds of films. One, which focuses on providing wholesome entertainment. And the other, that sets you thinking! Director Anubhav Sushila Sinha's Thappad belongs to the latter category, although it has its share of entertaining moments as well. The Hindi film industry is branded for creating movies from a male perspective. The women's stories are not really exemplified conscientiously. But, out of the blue, the souk of women-centric flicks is fast turning out to be a bankable genre. Sure, masala movies are great fun, but a film like Thappad breaks the monotony, shatters the unwritten rules of the game and scores brownie points. Thappad is a commanding story, has an authoritative central character, has several dominant and thought-provoking moments, which makes it an all-persuasive film.
You enjoy a movie even more if it has the unforeseeable factor adjoined to its premise. Thankfully, a number of storytellers in Bollywood are aiming to surprise, shock and charm you with attention-grabbing yarns you haven't witnessed earlier on the Hindi screen. Some get it right, some don't, but what needs to be lauded is the effort to break the mould, to go beyond the stereotype. Director Anubhav Sushila Sinha's Thappad also dares to push the envelope. Thappad boasts of some of the most talented names on and off screen. And the outcome is laudable!
Director Anubhav Sushila Sinha attempts a film that peeps into the heart of a woman. Without doubt one of the finest realistic films made in recent times, Thappad focuses the viewer's attention to that segment of society that has seldom been depicted on the Indian screen. Director/writer Anubhav Sushila Sinha and co-writer Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul have opted for a story that has a vigorous impact. Here's a dynamic director-writer duo who needs to be lauded for tackling such a difficult subject with the utmost sensitivity and emerging triumphant! Thappad truly celebrates the human spirit and also reflects a vital change in the society and in the attitudes of people. A film like Thappad pricks your conscience and makes you think. In fact, it's the kind of film that will lead to debates and discussions. If Taapsee Pannu is the driving force on-screen, it's director Sinha who deserves kudos and a few extra brownie points for handling the material with aplomb. His prowess and competence is visible all through the film. The director also incorporates ample emotional baggage that would make you connect with the on-screen characters. Dialogue deserve special mention. They are straight out of life.
Having said that, Thappad isn't fool-proof either. The bloated run time - almost 2.25 hours - acts as a roadblock. Also, to some extent, the story stagnates in the second half. As a result, the film feels elongated and also indulgent at times (editing: Yasha Pushpa Ramchandani). Thankfully, the film is back on tracks towards the closing stages. The final act is indeed brilliant!
A hard-hitting drama, generally, doesn't have scope for music. But Anurag Dipali Saikia's music is malleable. The picturization of Ek Tukda Dhoop song is simple but arresting, keeping the mood of the film in mind. Shakeel Sitarunnisa Azmi's lyrics are also superior. Soumik Sarmila Mukherjee's cinematography is luminous, closing in tight on the protagonist in dramatic moments. The background score (Mangesh Urmila Dhakde) is perfect and he makes sure he doesn't go overboard. Casting (Nandini Shrikent, Karan Mally), filtering, blending of characters together and depicting them in a complex film like this, without outlasting any one character's limit, is a lesson indeed and how!
Thappad is Taapsee Pannu's film all the way and there are no two opinions on that. Her performance deserves the highest marks. Her work is flawless and the impact her character makes on the minds of the viewer is also due to a tailor-made role. She projects an imposing figure of maturity, refinement and veracity. Her performance is bound to be talked-about in days to come. Kumud Mishra is splendid. What a fine actor! Pavail Gulati fantastically raises abomination. He is exceptional all through. Way to go! Ratna Pathak Shah is phenomenal, consummately. Geetika Vidya sinks her teeth into the character, giving it the much-required pragmatism that it necessitates. Tanvi Azmi is perfect. Dia Mirza looks every bit the character she is portraying and the effort is laudable. She essays her character with flourish. Siddhant Karnick, Ram Kapoor, Ankur Rathee and Manav Kaul are completely natural. Maya Sarao is outstanding. An actor to watch out for!
On the whole, Thappad is a purposeful film within commercial parameters that is sure to win plaudits by those who appreciate good, realistic cinema. The emotional and disturbing journey, the strength of a common woman and her relentless endeavour have all been most compellingly put together on moving picture. The best part is that the Indian masses will be able to identify with the goings-on. This gutsy film deserves a standing ovation! Just do not miss it. It is several notches above the stuff we've been subjected to in the past.