The number of acid attacks occurring over the years is worrisome. Authorities have an even more shocking attitude in preventing such attacks and preventing the sale of hazardous substances. After all, such an act can destroy life because it permanently damages the face. Bollywood has been trying some brave films on various subjects but this was an issue which was largely ignored. Director Meghna Gulzar, who has won respect and admiration since Talwar’s back-to-back success  And agree  Now comes with CHHAPAAK, which attempts to address these aspects. The film has been in the news since the makers revealed the look of its lead actress Deepika Padukone while it was being filmed. So does CHHAPAAK manage to entertain and shock the audience? Or does it fail in its attempt? Let us analyze.
CHHAPAAK is the story of an acid attack survivor. It is the year of 2005. Malati (Deepika Padukone) is a 19-year-old girl who is attacked by acid on a street in Delhi. A good Samaritan takes him to the hospital. His face is completely ablaze, with no chance being returned to his original form. Malati however is determined to deliver the culprits behind bars. Despite difficulty speaking at the time of the tragedy, she manages to tell the police that the attacker is Bashir Sheikh alias Babbu (Vishal Dahiya) and her sister Parveen. The police arrest both and Bablu confesses that he was thrown acid on Malti. Decently, Bablu was Malti’s family friend and even made trips to the hospital, following the attack. In court, Malti’s lawyer Archana Bajaj (Madhurjeet Sargi) gets a tough fight but Bablu manages to get bail on some grounds or other. Archana insists on maximum punishment, although the law, particularly on acid attacks, is not clear. This signals Malati to file a PIL, seeking a ban on easy availability of acid. What happens next makes the rest of the film.
The story of CHAAPAAK is mostly based on real-life events and is quite difficult. It also proves to be an eye opener as many people will not be aware of the severity of the condition and this acid is so easily available in India. The script by Atika Chauhan and Meghna Gulzar is inconsistent though. There are scenes where the film really captivates you and moves you. But in places, the writing is not well polished while the emotional engagement is missing and it affects the overall impression. The dialogues of Atika Chauhan and Meghna Gulzar are sharp.
Meghna Gulzar’s instructions are strictly fine. Both TALVAR and RAAZI worked so well because they not only had a good story, but also a superb execution. But in the case of CHHAPAAK, Meghna is not in top form. The idea of starting a film from the middle of the story did not work. Malti’s struggle is progressing only to an extent. There was a lot that could be done here but Meghna simply runs through some major scenes. This is especially evident in the court sequence. Also, an important track is that of Malti’s brother (Delzad Hivle), but hardly any time is spent on this episode. Later nothing is told about what happened to the brother and father of Malti (Manohar Teli). Had Meghna really given her best here, CHHAPAAK could have gone beyond what is onscreen, given the story’s potential.
CHHAPAAK begins on a very dry note and in a non-linear fashion. For the first 10–15 minutes, the audience cannot delve. It is only when the flashback parts begin that the film chooses. Some of the most impressive scenes of the first half are Malati’s first time after seeing her face in the mirror, and Archana urges Malati to wake up and fight. The courtroom scene keeps one hooked, but one wishes it had more drama. In the second part, the romantic track does not work much. Also, there comes a point when no one really knows where the film is going. Meghna puts another round of flashbacks to the climax and here, the film chooses again. Furthermore, one understands the speed between the characters and caused the acid attack in the first place.
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Deepika Padukone carries the difficult part with rare subtlety. She does her part well and in scenes where the acid splashes on her face and she starts working with him, the actress does a good job. But in most scenes, he is not overly emotional and is merely an observer. There was a wish he had done in these scenes that could be included in his performance. Vikrant Massey looks great and gives a really good performance. Sadly, he was denied writing. Madhurjeet is an important part of Sargi and plays with Elaine. She looks very confident in the courtroom scenes. Vishal Dahiya gives a great performance. Delzad Hivle is devastated. Payal Nair (Shiraz) and Vaibhavi Upadhyay (Minakshi) are fine. Manohar Teli is fine and appears in the scene where he is secretly drinking alcohol. The actor who plays Parveen is very good in the court scene.
The music of Shankar Ehsaan Loy is not memorable. The title track is well cast in an important scene. ‘Tip nozzle’ And ‘Open up’ Are average. Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Tuby have a slightly better background score.
The cinematography of Malay light is appropriate. Subrata Chakraborty and Amit Ray’s production design is clean. Abhilasha Sharma’s costumes are realistic, especially worn by Deepika. Srikanth Desai’s hair and makeup are fabulous and the prosthetic is also very well done. Nitin Baid’s editing is inconsistent.
Overall, CHHAPAAK is a bold attempt to highlight an issue and the crime that exists in our society. At the box office, it will be a difficult journey as it is not a commercial entertainment. Its business will be limited to a small portion of the multiplex repeat audience.