Acid attack survivors don’t want sympathy, are not victims: Meghna Gulzar

PTI, Jan 14, 2020, 4:09 PM IST

New Delhi: Acid attack survivors don’t want sympathy and her protagonist is not a victim either, says “Chhapaak” director Meghna Gulzar, explaining that she doesn’t believe she needs to satisfy notions that there must be “tragedy and sympathy” in an assault story such as this.
Chhapaak, based on the life of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, released on January 10 and has garnered glowing reviews from critics.
Featuring Deepika Padukone in the central role of Malti, Chhapaak also stars Vikrant Massey in the role of Amol, a journalist-turned-activist, and Madhurjeet Sarghi playing lawyer Archana Bajaj who spearheads the fight for justice.
“When Laxmi herself is not a victim how do I portray her as a victim because I have to satisfy certain expectations or notions that because it’s a film on survivor there needs to be tragedy and sympathy?” Meghna told PTI.
The director of films such as “Raazi” and “Talvaar” is hoping her film shines a light on gender violence.
“There’s no psychological profile for an acid attacker. Husbands are doing it, landlords are doing it, ex-wives are doing it, ex-girlfriends are doing it.
There’s no profile and that makes it all the more dangerous because which is why the Vikrant line becomes very important. That everyone has some buraai (evil) in them, but what is that one moment where we flip. If we can get a handle on that, we will be better people,” she said, referring to a critical conversation between Amol and Malti in the film.
The 46-year-old director said she opted for a non-linear narrative to depict the story of Malti (Laxmi), which opens in the backdrop of protests against the 2012 Delhi gangrape and murder.
“I didn’t want to go chronological that she was born, she was a girl, these were her dreams, aspirations and she was so beautiful, but then this happened because the character is herself not a victim. The way she is now and will be for the rest of her life. It’s important to know her and remember her and understand her,” she added.
Meghna said she chose to open the film against the Nirbhaya protests because the issue of acid violence came to the fore after that.

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