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The Scary Thing About Thappad Is That Every Scene Is So Freaking NORMAL!

Posted: May 5, 2020

Normalised domestic violence. Normalised emotional violence. That’s ‘normal’ life for most of us. Thappad uncovers this uncomfortable truth.

So, once in a blue moon Bollywood comes up with a good movie and that is what Thappad is.   

The scariest thing about watching ‘Thappad’ is that even now, in this century, every single scene in the movie is so FREAKING NORMAL.

*major spoilers alert

A normal life

Amrita, the female protagonist goes about every morning, making coffee, watering plants, sending her partner to office and so on. She is shown with a smile plastered to her face. She is happy, she is content. She is portrayed as living the perfect life, that every women dream of.

What is gut wrenching is the fact while watching these scenes, even I got the feeling of “Wow! That’s one lucky lady. Kaash meri life bhi aise hoti…(Wish I had a life like that)”

Cut to another scene where Amrita’s house help narrates how her husband comes home drunk and beats her at night. We see Amrita listening to this with a low smile almost as if things like these are common, especially in the lower households.

See it is NORMAL. It is just another story that us ladies have heard so often in real life, and on screen. No big deal.

Yes, no adjustment is a big deal

When Amrita visits her own house and her father reminds her of pursuing her dance practice and how she is a wonderful dancer, she is seen replying, again with a HAPPY face –“time kahaan hai papa?” (where do I have the time?) This one seemed so real to me since I remember my dad asking me a while back – ‘’Why don’t you write anymore? I loved reading your articles. Please don’t waste your talents…”

The movie goes about with such small scenes that are quite un-happening unless we rethink them.

When the mother in law tells Amrita that she is happy with her life because her husband and sons are happy – we are programmed to think what a wonderful lady she is. It is only after a while that we think, “What about her happiness? What if she wanted to be something else in life?”

After the ‘thappad’

Around 40 minutes into the movie we are shown the scene where that actual ‘Thappad’ happens.

Here the husband is shown all confused and agitated because he is offered a slightly smaller promotion than what he had hoped for. Amidst a heated argument with his superior during a house party, Amrita is shown trying to pull him away from the argument. And he vents out his anger by slapping her once. Just one slap. And in the next scene we see all (except for a few women and Amrita’s own dad) go about the party as if nothing happened!.

And I’m sure even some of the ladies would have thought – “Bas itni si baat?” (Such a small thing?)

We hear Amrita’s own brother saying “Poor jeeju (brother in law), he was so confused.” Even her OWN brother perceives the slap as something ‘normal’ and as something that happens in love. That’s where the movie takes off.

How is violence towards a loved one love?

Since when did hurting your partner physically become an expression of love? Since when did forgetting her own dreams and living for others became the characteristics of an ‘ideal bahu’? Slowly we start to see how deep rooted Patriarchy is in our society. It is so engraved in our minds that it has become NORMAL.

This is evident because throughout the whole movie; we cannot find a villain. Yes her husband slapped her but do we feel angry towards him? No we don’t! In fact at one point where he is trying desperately to fix their marriage we feel sorry for him. We almost wish Amrita forgives him and moves on with their marriage. That is how we have been programmed to function!

Trained to be a good wife, the ideal bahu

We are programmed to believe that being a ‘good wife’ means to take effort and bring happiness to the rest of the household.

When earlier I mentioned about my dad asking me to continue writing when my blog was inactive – it was not because I was too busy being a home maker or my husband told me not to write. It is how our priorities change and how a kind of slumber/ laziness sets in. We are so happy when our home is doing fine and everything goes smoothly that we do not want to invest in something else. We are content the way it is.

In the movie, when Amrita files for a divorce because she can no longer love her husband after the Thappad incident, even her lawyer asks her to move on, to adjust. To this Amrita replies – “yes I can adjust but then I won’t be happy.”

For generations now, it is this unhappy state that has been transferred. From mothers to daughters and to their daughters. And so the constant complaints, the “why was I born a girl” rant continues…

We need to get to the root of this issue

I am a feminist and yet, the feminism of these times makes me unsure many a times what to root for. I see girls crying out for their rights to wear whatever they wish, to work in whichever field they wish to. But when you think about it, is this where the root of the issue lies? No!

The modern day women are independent, they have jobs, they dress fashionably, they can spend their own hard earned money and yet at the end of the day they are the ones who worry about what to spread out on the dinner table. They are the ones who have to worry about being ‘society approved material’.

The roots of the problem we are facing today are buried deep deep down, to a point that it is cannot be traced. And unless we cleanse it from the roots, we are just plucking out the weeds which for sure will grow again even faster. You see, the seeds of this issue were sown thousands of years ago when some human (man /woman) decided that the lady of the house should look after every one in the house.

How do we un-normalise the problems?

Recently I watched a series online where one of  the main female cast shouts out – Let the matriarchy begin! I have seen several young girls resharing it. But reall,y is that what we want? Do we really want to sow the wrong seed again?

I believe, the seeds of respect are the ones that have to be sown next. Because only a person who treats everyone equally can respect all. Our textbooks have this extremely stupid lesson somewhere in the first grade (if I remember correctly) that says  – Respect your elders. It is what we are taught in our homes as well. What about the others? Why do we have to respect only the elders? Why not respect all? Why is it so difficult to respect all? Every single person deserves respect .

And with respect comes equality. After all isn’t that what FEMINISM is actually about? Just think of it.

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