At the outset, Thappad appeared a “one-sided” story to actor Pavail Gulati who was unsure about taking up the social drama.
But the actor boarded the Anubhav Sinha directorial after he realised that the film addresses a larger issue of normalisation of domestic violence.
Pavail, best known for web series such as Made in Heaven and Ghost Stories and TV show Yudh, featuring megastar Amitabh Bachchan, stars opposite Taapsee Pannu in Thappad.
In the upcoming film, Taapsee essays the role of an educated, upper middle-class woman who is forced to take stock of her relationship after being slapped by her husband, played by Pavail.
“Looking at the one-line of the film about a husband who hits his wife and the story goes on from there, I was a little reserved about being a part of it. It felt like a one-sided story but when I started reading the script, I was sure I wanted to do it.
“It’s a well-written script which shows both points of view. This is very rare in films as we often prioritise one part and show it as good and bad. It is not a male-bashing film. It is a balanced film. The film is about a relationship between a couple and the social dynamics around them,” the actor told PTI in an interview.
Pavail said it was challenging to play this role because he couldn’t relate to it.
“It was difficult to play this part because I was not brought up this way. I had to think of the reasons why my character is behaving this way. It was difficult to justify what I was doing. Anubhav Sinha sir guided me a lot. The idea was that people should relate with the part.
“We want people to come to theatres, especially men and think if they have done something like this or taken things for granted. Normalising a slap has been done for the longest time in our lives, now let’s normalise talking about it. People are shy to talk about it. Let’s go one step at a time. Let’s chat and debate about it,” he said.
This is Pavail’s first lead role and he said he was waiting for the right opportunity to come his way.
He revealed that it was his Ghost Stories director Anurag Kashyap who broke the news to him.
“I had been doing such roles for the longest time and I believe there is a role that is made for you and you just do it. This film happened very quickly. I tested for it and then flew to London to shoot ‘Ghost Stories’.
“Anubhav sir saw my test and liked it. He had spoken to Anurag sir as the dates of this film were clashing with ‘Ghost Stories’. Anurag sir broke the news of ‘Thappad’ to me. They both tried to change my dates and it all worked out.”
On the release of the trailer, Thappad was being considered an answer to Kabir Singh by many on social media.
Directed by Sandeep Reddy Vanga, the Shahid Kapoor-starrer was one of the biggest grossers of 2019, but the film received flak for its misogynistic gaze and normalising violence in a relationship.
Asked whether there was any connection between Kabir Singh and Thappad, Pavail said, “I don’t think it is an answer to anyone, nobody asked us a question. We are not trying to relate our film with them. It is not that the idea came out of ‘Kabir Singh’.
“Anubhav sir had this idea for the longest time. It is just that the timing of the film that people are comparing it with ‘Kabir Singh’. We made this film because we believed in it.”
Thappad, also starring Ratna Pathak Shah, Kumud Mishra, Tanvi Azmi, Manav Kaul and Dia Mirza, is scheduled to be released on February 28.
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