We are victims of our own conditioning: 'Thappad' co-writer Mrunmayee
Mumbai: "Thappad" co-writer Mrunmayee Lagoo Waikul says both the protagonists in the film are victims of their own conditioning, but she wanted Taapsee Pannu's Amrita, a traditional upper middle-class housewife, to be empowered enough to recognise the wrong.
The Anubhav Sinha-directed social drama has earned critical acclaim for its portrayal of domestic violence from the perspective of a housewife, whose world comes crashing down after her husband, played by Pavail Gulati, slaps her at a party.
"We felt it is important to empower our women at least into believing that this is wrong and they don't have to take it... As we progressed on the story, we felt it is important to show the entitlement of the male population, some of them are not aware they have it... Entitlement is so deep and natural that even people who are aware can see a hint of themselves in the characters," the writer told PTI in an interview.
Mrunmayee, who co-wrote the film with Anubhav, said though women take care of home on their own, men assume that's solely their responsibility and they wanted to show this imbalance without underlining it.
"I have seen balanced roles... My father is self-reliant. My mother was an actress and ran her home efficiently. I have seen her straddling both the worlds. That comes naturally to women but somewhere men are groomed into thinking that all of these things will be taken care of (by women). We are victims of our own conditioning," the writer, daughter of late Reema Lagoo, said.
Mrunmayee said they left it to the audience to draw their own conclusion through Amrita's routine, which revolves around her home and husband.
"Without saying anything accusatory to each other when you just show the daily routine, people draw correct inferences, both men and women. Women see how much we go behind... There is an identity struggle as 'there is no career so, at least, I will be the best housewife'."
Rather than trying to balance the power-dynamic, the the writer said they wanted to show the reality through various relationships such as Ratna Pathak Shah-Kumud Mishra and Maya Sarao-Manav Kaul.
"We only tried to balance reality with craft. Vikram (the husband) is nice but when things don't go his way, he can become a different person. This comes from what he has seen, heard and his upbringing. Similarly the parents, Ratna's character never felt like saying anything to her husband as everything was going well.
"We tend to overlook things and it happens in real life. Nobody is black or white. In real life, people can be more white or black."
Asked whether "Thappad" was an extension of 2016's "Pink", which also featured Taapsee, and had the viral dialogue on consent, 'No means no", Mrunmayee said the thought never crossed their mind.
"That big line of 'No means no' never occurred to us. The idea is so strong that it seeps into you when you are not thinking about it. What we were saying (in 'Thappad')aligned beautifully with this big truth, where 'no means no' is a slogan. It reinforces our belief in that whole idea."