Verdict: Chhapaak sends out a sincere message through a survivor’s personal journey.

15 years after activist Laxmi Agarwal turned her life around following a vicious acid attack, her story of strength and resilience has made its way to the big screen. Deepika Padukone stars in the lead role as Malti and has even stepped on to make her debut as a producer. Days before the release of Chhapaak, the actress decided to fearlessly stand in solidarity with the injured students of the JNU attack. Her polarising stance was met with support from industry professionals as well as opposition from individuals threatening to boycott her film. That leaves us to decide whether this inspiring film with a powerful true story can speak for itself. Directed by Meghna Gulzar, the film also stars Vikrant Massey and has been jointly written by Gulzar and Atika Chohan.

What’s Chhapaak About:

Coming from a humble background, Malti (Deepika Padukone) and her family are forced to endure the consequences of a ruthless acid attack. It all begins with a single hateful moment when harmful acid is splashed on the young woman, all because she refuses to accept the advances made by a man that she considered her brother. Following this life-changing incident, Malti’s new journey of overcoming an unimaginable nightmare begins. She is forced to undergo the traumatic ordeal of multiple facial surgeries, a prolonged legal battle with her attacker,  struggle to find a job, and come to terms with her new-found beauty. However, her relentless fight doesn’t stop there. She presents the game-changing PIL in the Supreme Court of India with her lawyer Archana (Madhurjeet Sarghi) to amend the laws on acid violence and the sale of acid. She also joins a powerful campaign against acid violence along with fellow acid survivors and forms a close bond with her friend Amol (Vikrant Massey).

What Works:

Chhapaak is all about the fearless and undying spirit of strong women. This comes out in Meghna Gulzar’s brilliant writing and direction, Deepika Padukone’s genuine performance, and most of all, the inspiring story of real-life she-ro Laxmi Agarwal. Having said that, let’s start with how Laxmi’s true trials and triumphs are portrayed through Malti. That single, life-changing moment of hate is handled with authenticity and great empathy. As the film goes on, there’s no stone left unturned as to what a survivor faces after her attack. It’s a continuous nightmare of having to rebuild a life that will never be the same. Deepika vanishes into the prosthetics to become the fearless fighter that we know Laxmi Agarwal to be. Both in moments of vulnerability and fearless strength, Deepika brings out a sincere and lovable Malti. Her chemistry with Vikrant Massey is evident as they portray an endearing and playful relationship. Chhapaak gives us just a peek at the concerning and widespread problem of acid attacks while displaying a survivor’s powerful fight and journey of healing.

What Could’ve Been Better:

Chhapaak focuses entirely on the message it aims to deliver and doesn’t put too much focus on the entertainment factor. In that sense, it’s not a melodramatic Bollywood flick but is a powerful must-watch nonetheless.

Why You Should Watch:

This film is well-written, honest, sympathetic, and heartfelt. Chhapaak tells a story that needs to be told and it’s worth a watch just for that.

Check out five more reasons to see the movie below: