I watched Thappad again last weekend. One of my friends was raving about the movie, and I was trying to make her forget the wonderful actress that’s Tapsee, and see what all was wrong in the movie. Since she brushed me away saying that I am crazy to be finding faults with this movie, I wanted to see if it was just me, or if anyone out there actually feels the same way.
Her argument was that I got to look at the big picture here, which was that it made people talk about what constitutes as domestic violence and how women shouldn’t tolerate it in any form. Yes, it got us talking. But what were we talking about btw? That was my problem #1 about the movie.
See, in all our discussions on Thappad, we focus on how brilliant Amrita was to not take a slap lightly and how incredibly fresh it was that she decided to leave the house immediately. Definitely an inspirational message for women. But what about the message the movie conveyed to men? What exactly are the men/or the abusers going to take away from the film? That they can go scott free because their wife is too kind or too scared to pursue legal action for the abuse they underwent?
What was the justice meted out to the aggressor here? They got their divorce, yes. But is that enough? One remains safe but the other remains scarred for life? I don’t know about you, but it didn’t sit well with me. Any type of domestic violence is punishable by law and women should try to keep their emotions aside and file a lawsuit. That would have made a great message but no, Thappad failed to deliver that.
Problem #2. That they thought that the “world’s best house wife” meant she should make herself disappear into the world of her husband. Yes, there may be as many Amritas in the world as there are Arjun Reddys, but it’s high time they stop portraying women doing everything around the house, and men doing nothing. Writers have to stop making a subservient wives and stalking guys as models of love. Let home makers be shown to do things for themselves and let that be shown as love for a change.
Ok, let’s move on and come to Problem #3. The Thappad scene, where, Amrita tries to break the two, and ends up getting a slap from her husband. Everything goes still for her, but her husband seems to move on. Symbolism, maybe, and a good one at that. But it shouldn’t have to be that way right? See, my problem was, I kept trying to put myself in Amrita’s place, trying to see if I would have reacted the same way. In none of the 10 different scenarios I imagined myself into, I could bring myself to think about walking away shame faced, quietly! It made for a good dramatic scene, but a bad feminist scene. And to see everyone around her keeping quiet, feeling sorry for her, and not knowing what to do…If this was an inspiring scene, bite me.
Which brings me to the question everyone would have had – why didn’t she hit him back? Of course Amrita answered that as well saying that she wasn’t raised that way. Would the woman in me feel satisfied if she had hit him back? I don’t know. But I know the scene where she walks away with her head hung in shame for no fault of her own, was revolting. I wish they hadn’t done that to her. She is an inspiration for women in the second half, a victim of domestic violence when seeing the movie shouldn’t be shown to hang her head in shame. The aggressor should.
So that comes to my conclusion. What was one supposed to take away from the movie? That men will be men, that people will be minding their own business when someone they know is getting abused, that no one will question the aggressor, that the woman was supposed to feel ashamed on being a victim of abuse? Or that one slap is one too many and how women shouldn’t tolerate abuse of any kind and should walk out? It gave the right message for the women, but failed to give any message for everyone else around her. For domestic violence to stop, it’s takes a group effort.
It will stop when men are made to realize they have no right to hit a woman. It will stop when we don’t stand quietly thinking it’s between two people in another house and instead file a police complaint immediately. It will stop when parents teach their daughter that they should never tolerate abuse of any kind in a marriage and give her their complete support for filing a divorce. It will stop when victims file for domestic abuse after escaping and the aggressors are punished severely. It will stop when society stops telling women to “adjust” with their hellish life, because that will be good for the future of their children. It will stop when every man out there are made to know that domestic violence is a CRIME and they are punishable by law. I wish Thappad delivered these messages too.
Thappad to me did have it’s set of faults, but like my friend said, it had several lovely moments too. I especially liked the part where her father and friend support her decision entirely. Wholehearted support from others play such an important role. Thappad definitely opened up topics to talk about, if people are willing to discuss those as well. Maybe the director wanted women to think, “If Amrita can do it, why can’t I?”. That’s a wonderful start, no doubt. But I would have also liked to see the man held accountable for his action and not go unpunished. Maybe the director thought it was just a slap, which was what’s really bothering me.