I remember once my psychology teacher asked me, “What will you do if your partner hits you?” I said, “I will leave him.” And then he lectured me on how I’ll not be happy in a relationship if I don’t compromise.
This is the problem Thappad addresses.
In a world where “Thappad se dar nahi lagta, pyaar se dar lagta hai” becomes catchy, and a film director openly says that it’s okay to hit someone if you truly love them, Thappad is not a breath of fresh air. It’s a whirlwind of reality check. It’s a storm of everything that is wrong with our deep rooted patriarchy.
Patriarchy is engraved within us in a such a way that we often don’t realize and overlook the hold it has in us, in all its subtlety or otherwise. We are taught to live amidst the rules of the patriarchal society, where men are in all ways considered superior to women. We are bred in this way and it’s our normal – so much so that we completely ignore the consequences it has on us.
Thappad shows all aspects of the story from a capitalistic lens and it’s relation to gendered politics and sexual supremacy – the lower-working class, where the husband beats the wife daily and it’s okay for us because they are uneducated. The high class couple – where the woman is a successful lawyer and yet lives her life compromising to an unequal, condesending relationship. Then, the upper middle class – the main storyline.
Here, the husband is the perfect representative of the ideal partner from the societal perspective. He is a good man – loves his wife, works hard at his job and does everything the society expects him to do. His mistake? He hits his wife, in a rage – in front of many people – because he didn’t get the promotion he wanted. His boss was right there, he could have slapped him instead. But he hit his wife. It might not have been a deliberate choice. But it’s still a choice. He doesn’t apologize. In his eyes, he doesn’t have to. It just happened. Even the next morning, he keeps ranting about his promotion while his wife has lost all sense of her self. Because of that one slap.
The movie moves forward as she is suggested numerous times to let it go, by her mother, her mother-in-law, her brother and even her lawyer. None of these characters are bad people. They are just stating the society’s reality. And that is where it hits hard. Because it is all so real. It probably has happened to you, and you have moved on. And it has probably happened to someone else and you have asked them to moved on.
It angers you, it saddens you and it will make you question yourself.
I’ve always believed art is the strongest tool to bring change – any form of art. And for the longest time, I’ve been disappointed with the way the movies have been portraying problematic interpretation of the society. Recently, a movie by the name of Kabir Singh and the impact it had on the society made me feel utterly disgusted. And today, my belief has been reinstated. Movies can create change. Art is indeed the strongest tool to change the world.
In this time that we are living, upbringing is not an excuse for bad behavior, and neither is mental illness. We are living in the time where we have to unlearn, we have to educate ourselves. And that is what this movie will do for you. It will educate you. It will open your eyes. It indeed opened my eyes.