Hoping her cinematic voice can help bring about lasting change in how society perceives acid attack survivors, actor Deepika Padukone says her latest film Chhapaak should ideally be so impactful that there won't be need for another story on acid violence. After all, cinema is in itself such a powerful medium, Deepika told PTI ahead of the release of the film based on the life of acid attack survivor-activist Laxmi Agarwal.
The idea behind the social drama is to invoke empathy and understanding rather than paint women who have undergone the ordeal as victims, the actor, who has also produced the film, said in a telephonic interview from Mumbai. "Beyond the gruesomeness, the violence and all of that, there is a story of the human spirit and hope. That's why we're telling the story," she said.
Deepika, 33, said it was a story that spoke to her and she felt pride in attaching herself to the project. Chhapaak, directed by Meghna Gulzar and also featuring Vikrant Massey, is the second mainstream film to focus on the subject after 2019 Malayalam movie Uyare starring Parvathy Thiruvothu. "I hope we won't have to constantly tell stories on acid attack survivors for us to see change. I hope with our film we begin to see that change for ourselves as a society and for acid attack survivors.”
"If we don't, then we've done something wrong as a society. Cinema in itself is such a powerful medium that hopefully just through this one film we will hopefully be able to see that kind of change and impact."
The actor said there was not much planning behind the decision to back the film financially. "Sometimes certain films need a little more hand holding, a little more love and support. I felt like I would be adding a little more value as a producer. This is a film I'm very proud of, not just from the script point of view but even in terms of the story and its message," she said.
The film, which releases on January 10, will be Deepika's first release in two years and comes after her marriage to frequent co-star Ranveer Singh. The actor said she used the time to creatively replenish herself. "It was about finding a film worthy of putting out there. It's not that work at my end had stopped. I was constantly looking for scripts that challenged and excited me.
"I would look at it as time for creative fertility. It's important to nurture yourself. The work that goes on behind the scenes... most often we're constantly on a film set, but whether it's meeting with writers and directors, looking for scripts... That is also part of the creative process and that's what I've been doing."
The title "Chhapaak" instantly evokes the image of acid being splattered, and Deepika said the director wanted a word for the film's name that could also lend itself to a song.
"I think she said 'chhapaak', which is the sound of a splash, is something that could adapt or lend itself beautifully to a song. Perhaps, it also has to do with fluidity and liquid. So on one hand, liquid is known to take different forms, a liquid such as this (acid) can change someone's life forever," she said.
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