Female Companionship you Forgot to Notice in Thappad
The orange ice candy that the main women in Thappad sip and enjoy in the opening shot is probably symbolic of their happy and sweet moments before they return to their presumably happy and suppressed lives. From sharing an ice candy in common to share the repressed notion of self-respect and being blindfolded by the patriarchal notions, the companionship of these female characters rejuvenates.
There has always been this misconception that women never really get along or share the kind of brotherhood that the men have. Amidst the deconstruction of the deep-rooted patriarchy that we have normalized for centuries, Anubhav Sinha’s Thappad (2020) also resonates with female companionship and sisterhood. However, we became so engrossed in watching Amrita’s (played by Taapsee Pannu) journey of self-exploration that we forgot to take a peek at this underlying theme too.
The very next day of all the havoc (Amrita’s husband slaps her in front of a huge crowd at their home) where Amrita is expected to behave normally in spite of not getting the apology she deserved, Sunita (played by Geetika), her housemaid comforts her with a relaxing oil massage and shares her story which is similar but divided by class constructs.
A warm hug by her neighbor Shivani (played by Dia Mirza) was something that Amrita needed the most at that moment. Shivani, unlike other women never suffered an abusive marriage and never had to comprise herself to fit in the relationship. But that never stopped her from understanding what Amrita was going through.
Maybe that is why she backed to support her even when Vikram asks her to pretend as if nothing happened so that he can save his marriage.
Even when her own brother justified Vikram’s thunderous slap in front of a pretty large crowd, it was her to-be sister law Swathi who had Amrita’s back and encouraged her to do what her heart said. Swati (played by Naina Grewal) introduces Amrita to a very notable and reputed lawyer Netra (played by Maya Sarao), who herself is choking in a meaningless and abusive marriage, a relationship built on privilege and lack of love. Netra had turned a blind eye to all the abuse and violence like many women in this country.
When Vikram’s lawyer (Ram Kapoor) jokes “when did she become an activist from a lawyer”, Amrita backs her up by saying, “She actually became a woman from a lawyer and not an activist!” It is only on seeing the sheer determination of Amrita to walk out of a relationship where there is no love and respect, that Netra sees through her broken marriage and decides to step out of it. She leaves behind the entitlement of being “Justice Jaisingh ki bahu” to make her own identity.
Amrita’s mother Sandhya (played by Ratna Pathak Shah) and mother-in-law Sulekha (played by Tanvi Azmi) were initially apprehensive of her decision to end the marriage but later were able to see through the turmoil of self-respect and existence that tormented Amrita.
They were able to see how they too, in a significant percentage, were responsible for what happened had been carrying on the baton of these normalized patriarchal notions. Sulekha eventually let’s go of Amrita so that she can live a life of her choice.
That one slap is not something that should be considered as ‘shaadi main toh yeh sab hota rehta hai‘(such things are common in marriage) or “something that is a way to show love and affection”. That one slap brought in a wave of change in Amrita and like her, we too began seeing through the deep-rooted patriarchy that normalized domestic violence and taught women that ‘hota rehta hai, comprise karna padta hai‘(such things happen and you have to compromise).
Thappad speaks of notions bigger than domestic violence. The film also resonates with how women have sacrificed their sense of self and existence for their families for centuries.
Anubhav Sinha’s Thappad signals for a new thoughtful world where women are unapologetic and no longer tolerate disrespect and abuse. How many of you are in for this gender-neutral world?
You can now watch Thappad on Amazon Prime
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