Thappad was tough to write and shoot, but it's my best film to date: Anubhav Sinha
Anubhav Sinha's new film Thappad questions – ‘Is one slap enough to re-examine your marriage?’
After Mulk and Article 15, Anubhav Sinha completes a trilogy of sorts with Thappad. His new film is yet another attempt at voicing deep-rooted prejudices and unjust norms of society. The Taapsee Pannu-starrer — a timely take on misogyny and male entitlement — traces the heart-wrenching story of a happily married woman, whose life changes after her ‘good’ husband slaps her for the first time, and what follows is her battle for equal rights and self-respect. The film questions – ‘Is one slap enough to re-examine your marriage?’
Firstpost catches up with Anubhav Sinha who is delighted to be known as the writer-director of a hard-hitting feminist film which is already making a lot of noise with its interesting and intriguing plot.
Was this your most difficult film when it came to writing and executing as compared to your previous films?
Yes. It is my most difficult film in terms of writing and in terms of shooting it. Also, I think this is my best film till date. The issue that the film deals with seems insignificant but it is not. It is insignificant only in our minds. It was the most difficult film to write and by far the toughest film to shoot. I don’t know if I will ever make a tougher film than this again.
What prompted you to address this issue?
It’s not based on any one incident. It is all around us. I have seen this happen for years around me. It got triggered from there and then lot of time there is an emotion that touches you and stays with you. Finally you find a story that can conveniently convey that emotion. I have seen lot of women going through unequal relationship. On the surface it may look like just about domestic violence but it is not. It is not about that at all, it is about relationships.
You worked on the script along with a female writer Mrunmayee (Lagoo), were there disagreements as you or her might have had a different perspective? Or were both of you always on the same page?
I was very certain that I want to work with a woman co-writer. We thought a lot and finally we came on the same page which is the reason you have a co-writer because then you keep exploring more perspective and more logic and then try to do a script which is more logical and real. But yes, it was at one point Mrunmayee fought with me for the longest time. She felt the husband was too good a person and felt let’s make him a bad guy, but my argument was that if he was a bad guy then the wife should leave him anyway, and if the guy becomes too good then the girl will look bad. And at the same time we had to make the movie interesting. So there was a bit of struggle. But I wanted the audience to leave the theatre feeling that they wish he had not done what he did to her.
Was there a struggle in Taapsee’s characterisation?
With the kind of films she has done and the kind of person she is, she may not have been the perfect casting for the part. I wanted her to look docile. I wasn’t looking for that activist Taapsee for sure. But there is nothing known as perfect casting. It is the perfect marriage of the writer, the director, the script and the actor. It is how you interpret it and how it is executed.
Taapsee said she felt claustrophobic playing the part.
As long as you are portraying it you don’t realise...you realise it in hindsight because you are constantly feeling like her in the character.
What was Taapsee’s reaction when you approached her for the role?
She said (sounding a bit aggressive): ‘I will do this film, you can’t make it with anyone else’ (laughs).
Did you toy with the idea while writing that Taapsee can portray a working woman?
We wanted to show her as housewife not out of compulsion. Some women can choose to be housewives and be happy. Women who are housewives are not necessarily deprived. Amrita (Taapsee’s character) is a happy housewife.
You have made a complete shift from the kind of films you used to make earlier like Dus, Cash, and Ra.One. Will you go back to doing escapist cinema?
I don’t know. If one day I really get tired and I want to escape I will do a big action film (laughs). It seems difficult though. But the films that I am making now have been there with me for a long time.
Your previous two films were successful and you seem to be enjoying this journey. Do you feel more honest as a filmmaker that you’re making films you truly believe in and feel strongly about?
Yes, it is a very good feeling that you make films that touch people deep inside. These are addictive, too, when people walk out of the theatre and you can see it in their eyes that they are touched. So yes, it is good fun, I am loving it, I am enjoying it.
But how do you feel when you look back at your films — Cash, Dus, and RaOne.
I feel as if I was doing a double role. It is a weird feeling actually (laughs).
Buzz is that you will soon make a political drama with Ayushmann Khurrana and Taapsee Pannu.
I have read about it and that is all. I am working on a film and I will talk about it soon.
How have your colleagues and fraternity responded to Thappad as you just had a premiere for them?
I am overwhelmed. I can’t begin to tell you how beautiful it has been till now.
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