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Chhapaak is the most special film of my career, says Deepika Padukone

At the trailer launch, Padukone broke down as she tried to describe the upcoming Meghna Gulzar film.

Our Correspondent

Deepika Padukone broke down as she tried to describe the role of Malti in Meghna Gulzar's Chhapaak (2020) at the trailer launch at PVR Juhu on Tuesday, 10 December. The actress was quite emotional as she described the film as the 'most special' of her 12-year career. 

Accompanied by director Meghna Gulzar and actor Vikrant Massey, Padukone said, "Usually you have to sit through the entire process and decide whether you want to do the film. You don't always come across a story where you instantly know that this is what you want to commit your life to, and Chhapaak is that for me.

"Meghna, thank you so much for trusting me with this. It has been an incredible journey emotionally for me putting it together. And to see how it is received and how it does, it will be the most special film of my career."

The film sees Padukone play the character of Malti, based on acid-attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, who fights her attackers and inspires other women like herself to stand up for themselves.

Praising Agarwal, Padukone said, "I have never met somebody like her. She is unique. I do not say this with sympathy, not with what has happened, but what she has made of the incident, and what she has made of her life after that. I have yet to come across someone as entertaining, as engaging. I can sit and talk to her for hours. She is always full of stories, full of anecdotes. You will see that in the film, her entire personality, not one-dimensional."  

The launch of the trailer on International Human Rights Day marked an interesting coincidence. Mentioning the point, director Meghna Gulzar said, "As filmmakers, we work hard and diligently to make something, and then the time comes to hand it over to you."

While the viscerally moving trailer showed Padukone in fine form, the actress remarked that it was the strength in her character that drew her to the role. "Characters that can stand up for themselves, that have a voice, or have that sort of inner grit, determination, I am definitely drawn to characters like that, and that's probably what I saw it here," she said. "This rests not so much on the incident but her overcoming it and in the way that she lived her life after. I think that, for me, was more of the draw than the incident itself."

Vikrant Massey, who plays a supporting role in the film, said it was important for cinema to awaken a 'collective consciousness'. "This is the story of Malti, but it would not be fair to chalk it down to a female-led film," he said. "There were many people who stood up and supported her journey, and I play one of those many people. It was a chance for me to collaborate with Deepika Padukone and Meghna Gulzar. The kind of times we live in, the kind of things we read in the newspapers every morning, it is time for a collective consciousness amongst us to ask questions whether we are able to fulfil our responsibility through cinema."

The idea found further support in Padukone who said one cannot shy away from the power of cinema. "You cannot shy away from the fact that cinema is an extremely powerful medium," she said. "It depends on each individual how they choose to use that medium. But you definitely cannot shy away from the fact that it is extremely powerful and the youth get influenced by it. I will not claim that I have had this realization from the start of my career. But I have grown into this after a period of time."

Chhapaak has been directed by Meghna Gulzar and written by her in collaboration with Atika Chohan. The film is set to be released on 10 January 2020.