Meghna Gulzar: ‘Chhappaak’ is a story of trauma and triumph
Meghna Gulzar says she has navigated in a very sensitive and aesthetic manner the subject of “Chhapaak”, which is based on the life of acid attack survivor and activist Laxmi Agarwal, and calls it a story of trauma and triumph.
Meghna said she had to be careful in showing the harm done by acid on the skin and wanted audiences to focus on the character’s journey.
“One myth of acid attack is that when when you are attacked, then it is not that your face melts and falls off. It is not like that. It is like getting burnt with hot water. The skin goes through a process. “Having said that, I believe all of it needs to be dealt aesthetically and sensitively if you want your story to resonate… I think this is for every film. It depends on the sensibility of the maker,” Meghna told PTI in an interview here.
The director said it made sense to explore the issue of acid attacks in the country through the film as during her research she found out that such cases are happening on almost daily basis.
She also found out that Laxmi’s case was instrumental in Supreme Court’s ruling that put restrictions on the sale of acid. “When I was researching, we got to know the frequency with which these attacks were being reported and it was high. That’s when the realisation hit that this is something that happens frequently.
“When we delved deeper into this case, we found out that her (Laxmi) case was landmark and therefore using it as an anchor to tell the story made sense,” Meghna added.
When asked whether cinema can bring some sort of healing to women, who either are acid attack survivors or have faced violence, Meghna said, “The essence of the trailer is of two words – trauma and triumph. If it is in the trailer, it is going to be in the film and it is there.” Bollywood star Deepika Padukone portrays Laxmi in the movie and Meghna said having an established name on board the film will help in spreading awareness about the issue that the film deals with. “An actor like Deepika playing the part, widens the interest in the film because she is so popular, big and adulated that you will have her fans who want to come and see it. Have I used her star power? I think that is the function of promotion and marketing, which is not me. Have I used her craft? Yes.”
The director revealed that she and co-writer Atika Chohan had penned the script of “Chhappaak” before she directed by her 2018 film “Raazi”.
“It has not taken time. Once we finished writing, ‘Raazi’ happened. Every script has its own destiny, you can write it but you can’t decide when it will get made. That the film decides on its own,” Meghna said. The film, which also features Vikrant Massey, is set to release on January 10, the same day Ajay Devgn’s “Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior” will hit the screens.
Meghna is unfazed by the clash at the box office as she believes it is impossible to avoid competition.
“Our population is of billion people and I am sure two films can find their own audience. We make so many films a year and we have just 52 weeks, it is impossible to make expect a solo release. So the math is simple,” she added.