Amrita (Taapsee Pannu) confines herself in a corner of the house, contemplating on what just happened. Hours before this, the same house was bustling with guests dancing to popular Punjabi tracks. And all that maddening noise just drowned under the deafening silence of a slap.
She storms into the living room, takes the pallu around her waist and secures it at the side, picks her hair up and fastens in a tight, messy bun, and starts to noisily move the furniture in the room back to their original place. The camera pans close and we see beads of sweat forming on her face in the dim light. The only sound in that scene is of the sweet jingling of the bangles and the harsh push-and-pull of the sofa.
Somethings can go back to how they were, somethings cannot.
Thappad is a simple story of an upper-middle-class couple based in Delhi. The wife is questioning if it is okay for her husband to slap her, even if it is a one-off case. But Thappad doesn’t leave it to just a question. At the core of the story is a human being’s ego, gender irrelevant here. Anubhav Sinha lends a certain subtlety to the film that a film like this needed. And given how lost subtlety is in Hindi cinema (Bollywood, essentially), Thappad hits you like that very slap that snapped Taapsee’s Amrita back into consciousness.
The start-credits of the film are particularly memorable. Weaved almost like the last episode of Modern Love, Anubhav weaves stories of different women – the mother, the mother-in-law, the maid, the neighbour, the neighbour’s 13-year-old daughter, the brother’s girlfriend and Amrita – and their idea of love at different ages and stages of their life. And then, all these stories converge into one house, where Amrita is brewing her first cup of tea of the morning with a sprig of lemongrass cut from her kitchen window and a generous pinch of crushed ginger.