If you are tuned into the news, even peripherally, you would have heard of the Muzaffarnagar story of a group of men who flung acid on a woman who filed a report against her rapists. This isn’t an aberration. Acid attacks are steadily on the rise (due to increased access to cheaper acid), and many of these cases go largely unreported due to stigma and family members being the perpetrator of violence.
In the midst of this, Meghna Gulzar brings her socially responsible, and incredibly cinematic gaze to this issue. Acid attack comes from this predominantly violent male perspective that if you destroy a woman’s ‘beauty’, you have destroyed their life.
Gulzar cast Deepika Padukone (who also debuts as a producer with this film), one of the most beautiful and sentient actors in India to portray Malti, an acid attack survivor who is first grappling with the effect of this attack on her face, her vanity, and then on her character (she has a reluctant boyfriend). It veers between a human and a courtroom drama. Vikrant Massey plays a journalist, and possible trigger for happier, more just times.
There is a moment in the trailer where she talks about the increased access to acid.
“Kitna accha hota agar acid bikta hi nahin. Milta hi nahin, toh phikta bhi nahin.”
It is said to be based on the life of Laxmi Agarwal, an acid attack survivor. The film obviously isn’t agnostic to social discourse. The trailer ends with the hashtag #AbLadnaHai. A movement might have found its hashtag.
Atika Chohan and Meghna Gulzar have written the film. The film releases on January 10, 2020.