Chhapaak (2020)

Meghna Gulzar gives us a brilliant film which compels us to think. Deepika delivers one of her career bests as ‘Malti’, an acid attack victim survivor.

We get to examine what has enabled the crime, the plight of the survivors, the flaws in the legal system and the wonders of medical science.

Exceptional direction and acting makes this not a ‘poke in the eyes to make you cry’ but a ‘stab in the heart to make you think’. The haunting background score helps to further that cause.

It was an emotional and empowering viewing that makes you strongly want to burn away the prejudice.

4/5

Lipstick under my burkha (2017)

The title may suggest a story that centers around a burkha clad woman. It isnt. In this case it’s the context of a veil which shrouds Indian women, their fantasies, desires and sexuality.

The way the film is narrated is a master stroke. It may not be clear in the beginning, but very soon you realise what’s going on and how wonderful it is. The writing of the film is fast paced and anything but lazy. Tiny details and passing nuances speak volumes about the circumstances and outlook of the four protagonists.

Director/writer Alankrita Shrivastava has ventured into unexplored territory for the Indian audience. Both men and women need education on this subject. She handles it with maturity and wisdom, never using any scene or story for reaction but rather a deep understanding of what’s missing and what should be happening.

The performances from the four principal cast members is flawless. A big salute to Ratna Pathak Shah for doing what most actors wouldn’t. Konkona Sen Sharma is her usual dependable self, strong in the face of chauvinism. Aahana Kumra is a revelation, living life on the edge and being as comfortable in pretence as she is behind closed doors. Plabitha Borthakur is an example of many youths who may not be following their dreams because of cultural or societal restrictions and prejudices.

The supporting cast is made up of many actors, the ones who stand out and do a great job are Sushant Singh, Vikrant Massey, Shashank Arora and Jagat Singh Solanki. Varying degrees of being gentlemen to complete chavanists, they portray the array of attitudes women have to deal with.

From making your blood boil to stirring up a memory, to erotic abandon and some applause worthy laughs, this is the best film of 2017, so far.

4/5