The new year starts with a bang for the movies as filmmaker Meghna Gulzar brings in a breath of fresh air, a powerful story based on an important issue of Acid Abuse to the table, done beautifully to hit the right chords.
Set in the streets of New Delhi, Chhapaak tells a story of a nineteen year old, Malti, who becomes victim of a heinous incident of acid attack, and the aftermath and struggles following that.
The first part of the film moves through flashback scenes, showcasing that exact moment when the acid attack takes place, which indeed gives the film a powerful kick start.
Right from the first sequence to the entire passage of the film, Deepika Padukone has transformed herself into the character of Malti so well, that her struggle and conflict will make you feel her plight right in the bones.
The music and the songs play an integral part here, as they add to the emotions of the scenes, especially the title song, Chhapaak, beautifully penned by Gulzar and sung by Arijit Singh, that pierces through your heart and makes you feel the intensity of the situation.
The story is carefully weaved with the perfect balance of grief and responsibility.
Focusing on the socio-physical damage post acid attack, packed with legal battles and economic problems at home, Chhapaak discusses the life and struggles of Malti, which is essentially the story of real life acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal. While there were also reports that the makers have altered the religion of the attacker in the film, it stands untrue in the film.
Deepika is splendid as Malti in the film, and this can easily be listed as one of her finest performances. An incredible work has been done with the prosthetic, which at no given point of time will give you a sense of fabrication, and full points for that.
Vikrant Massey plays Amol, a grumpy NGO founder, who is determined to work in the benefit of acid attack victims. His performance is incredible and sharp, and he is undeniably a star in the making, so watch out for him! His bittersweet relationship with Malti is showcased well in the film, that will leave you with a few laughs and giggles here and there.
Meanwhile, speaking of the screenplay, Meghna Gulzar, who had created a high benchmark with her film Raazi, did not disappoint, and certain scenes in the film are powerful, impressive and moving. A particular scene where Deepika'a character Malti uncovers her severely burnt face in pride after the sessions court gave a judgement in her favor and announced the attacker as guilty was so alluring and delicate. Also, what needs to be appreciated is the nuances with which the director has captivated the entire story, that organically connects with you from the very beginning.
Besides Malti's heartwarming struggle story, the second part of the film also casts light on awareness about the issue, victim compensation schemes, and acid ban.
Chhapaak does not Empathize with acid attack victims, but Celebrates them and that is what is the highlight of this inspiring story.
What's interesting is that the film nears to the end with the exact same scene: the sequence of the acid attack, with which the film started and it manages to give you goosebumps yet again and makes you feel the emotion immensely.
And to top it all, an unexpected and soul stirring end will leave you wondering, but for all the reasons.
The film is definitely a must watch and deserves credit for the highlight of an important topic of acid abuse and awareness.