As the Thappad (Slap) scene approaches in the movie, the story builds itself up perfectly for a fall out, relationship wise.
Point number one, there are lots of wifery to begin with. Starts with; not letting the morning wake up alarm ring even for a second lest it wakes the husband. The alarm is strictly for wife, for her to start her wifely stuffs. Collecting milk and newspapers from the doorsteps, chopping few leaves of lemongrass and grating ginger to make tea and finally see the husband off to his work while holding his wallet and tupperware of drink. Why the husband can’t keep his wallet in his pocket escapes me.
Point number two, there is husband. But he doesn’t indulge in husbandry. He is probably some mid level corporate PPT pusher wanting to make it bigger than what he is now. He is pampered at home until his doorsteps and thereafter he alights his saloon car for office. His angst with the world begins at his doorsteps when he sees his neighbour; a beautiful working women driving a large SUV. Nothing perturbs a promotionwallah more than to see others driving a bigger whatever. If he has a car, he now desires a car-a-lago.
Lastly, there are the two families on each side. They are shown to be pretty sedate. They don’t seem to matter much in the actual scheme of things. They are the support staff, supporting their individual wards.
At the eve of Thappad (slap incident) the husband is perturbed about some office politics undermining his promotion and is confronting his boss at a party in his house. When Thappad occurs, it wipes out point number one as enumerated above. Wife withdraws from wifery. Husband now turns to husbandry. The manly variety. No remorse. Has taken for granted that her doormat wife should always be slap-ready. Quite astonishingly, and pretty appropriately in a masculine world, the husband’s promotion is reinstated despite his boss and number of his colleagues saw the husband’s Thappad first hand. No repercussions for egregious behaviour.
Post Thappad, arrives the vakils, lawyers. The director has toned down the rhetoric which lawyers in Indian movies are shown to unleash. This is refreshing. Both sides are civil to begin with, civil to end with. Even threats are civil. No shouts and harangues. Just conversation.
But why is the movie so interesting. Screenplay and Taapsee! She is in a pivotal role. She portrays and projects the various emotions skillfully before and after Thappad. Credit also goes to the director who is able to get the right measure of effects in near low tone of the movie.
It’s pretty fashionable these days to cut melodrama in Indian movies, but cutting melodrama and still able to convey the emotion needs good direction and good actors. The movie did have great scope for various types of melodrama, starting with husband worship, then Thappad, then vakil (lawyers), then two families, sas-bahu (mother-in-law and wife), then Bachcha (pregnancy); yet the movie is restrained in all these and is topped with equally restrained performances.