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There's a scene in the trailer of the movie, Chhapaak, where Deepika Padukone, post the acid attack, is seeing how an earring looks on her. It is that very scene in the movie played poignantly by Deepika Padukone, where you understand reluctance and difficulty in accepting yourself when you look different than you used to. It's a moving scene and gives a glimpse of trauma that Malti (played by Deepika Padukone) has to endure after acid is thrown on her. It's not only a significant movie from the viewpoint of the acid attack survivor, Malti but Chhapaak also brings out the toxic masculinity, which is sadly seen normal in the society. It is so normal that filmmakers of Kabir Singh didn't have any qualms in glorifying Kabir Singh. Adding to that, Deepika Padukone's wardrobe in Chhapaak also explains the character's transition - from fears to happiness.
So, in the bat of an eye, life turns around for Malti. The scene shows her in a vibrant yellow and pink salwar suit and falling on the ground, as she gets attacked. The brightly-hued suit of hers symbolises her positive state of mind and the fact that the character loves dressing up. However, after the attack, the movie depicts how her attitude towards clothes changes. It is not as if she changes her wardrobe but after the attack, the trauma and depression gets highlighted through her clothes too. It happens that when you are in a disturbing phase of your life, you wear clothes without giving it a thought. This attitude shift gets reflected through her outfits - she doesn't feel excited about sporting earrings because you can imagine the character supposedly feels that how does an earring matter, when she doesn't look herself anymore.
Yes, appearance - the conditioned standards is another subject that Chhapaak touches upon. In a number of scenes, Malti has hidden her face behind the veil because she feels embarrased. The veil might have hidden her face but what it cannot hide is the mindset of people. In the world, where since time immemorial, a certain stereotyped beauty narrative is been getting pushed, it gets difficult to accept yourself when you don't find yourself in that appearance bracket. An acid attack survivor, Malti doesn't find herself in that bracket and hence the veil because sans the veil she know too that people would stare and gasp. It is sad that such is the mindset. So, yes, the movie becomes important too as it challenges the normal and the fact that people don't have to cover their face because later, Malti removes the veil and walks confidently too.
In one of the scenes, she is seen dressed in a rather dull and unassuming outfit. The dull outfit actually goes beyond an outfit - it sort of seems to reflect that how she doesn't want people to notice her. It's only towards the later scenes in the movie, with courage, support, and love that Malti finds her voice and feels empowered again. You notice that in those scenes her wardrobe changes to the good old bright clothes. Towards, the end, she sports a colour-blocked salwar suit and that there are more patterns in her attire. At the end, she wears an earring too like normally without any reluctance.
Chhapaak is more than just a story of acid attack survivor, it is a touching and sometimes harsh depiction of how our society is. The movie is based on the true story of acid attack survivor, Laxmi Agarwal, who graced a number of promotional rounds in gorgeous saris and other outfits. Kudos to Deepika Padukone and Meghna Gulzar for making Chhapaak.
All Photos Credit: FoxStarHindi