The Story of a Thappad

​Searching for Her Space

Thappad questions the predetermined, skewed, and unequal notions about the role of a man and a woman in even a so-called “happy” marriage.

Social conditioning leads individuals to assimilate several social constructs that reflect beliefs, faiths, customs, and rituals that are often discriminatory. This imposes subtle and blatant restrictions on women. Deviations are met with intolerance, and the invisible “eye” of society is invoked to silence the so-called transgressions of these “deviant” women, especially in intimate relationships. The enjoyment of structural entitlement predominantly rests with men, and women’s contributions are often portrayed as duties (relegated to the realm of the invisible, while those of men are always monetised and made visible through valuation).

Directed by Anubhav Sinha, Thappad (The Slap) is an acclaimed 2020 Hindi film, which portrays various shades of subtle violence against women. The plot revolves around the lives of a happily married couple, Vikram and Amrita. Vikram is an extremely ambitious corporate worker, and the rhythm of Amrita’s life revolves around him, from waking him up to handing him his office files and wallet, from taking care of his diabetic mother to running the household, all with a smile. Amrita’s efforts as enabling factors in Vikram’s success bring our attention to the debate on paid versus unpaid work. The lack of economic valuation of household and care work has treated women, irrespective of economic and social status, as inferior to their earning male counterparts. In the “arranged” marriage proposed by Amrita’s family (of a lower economic status than Vikram’s)—referred to and emphasised by Vikram in turbulent times—Amrita makes the “choice” of accepting and embracing the role of homemaker with pleasure, considering her contribution as equally important to that of Vikram’s. That Vikram neither shares these views nor values her contribution is reflected throughout the movie, highlighting the casual sexism and lack of substantiation of unpaid labour by women in the household.

To read the full text Login

Get instant access

New 3 Month Subscription
to Digital Archives at

₹826for India

$50for overseas users

Updated On : 28th Jul, 2020

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Having lost a dear friend, the author reflects on the nature of friendship, and its relationship with memory.

As mounting performance pressure on students lays the ground for increasing malpractice, what can academic administrators do differently?

At the root of sexual harassment in the arts is an unquestioning culture of subservience.

Could the lived experiences of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, shared with millions of Americans, be their ticket to the White House?

As the concert stage is left empty, what can music and musicians do differently for the art form?

Amitav Ghosh’s novel goads us to seriously rethink our world, and finds new relevance under current circumstances.

S P Balasubrahmanyam’s influence on the Telugu people extends beyond singing and cinema.

Back to Top