Meghna Gulzar on Chhapaak: Found our Malti in first prosthetics session
Bringing Laxmi's story in Chhapaak, director Meghna Gulzar applauds Deepika Padukone for shunning her good looks to play acid attack survivor.
It is difficult to follow up the masterfully told Raazi with an equally compelling story. But Meghna Gulzar, with her instinct to find stories where others don't dare to look, stepped up with a braver offering. The idea behind making Chhapaak was fairly simple, she explains. "The frequency of this violent act [acid attack] is high, but the awareness around it is abysmally low. The dialogue around this has to be brought into public consciousness."
The director, who is bringing acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal's story to celluloid, says the most integral step was to gain her muse's trust. "I wanted to make her story the anchor as it was a landmark case," she says. After all, it was Agarwal's petition that led the apex court to regulate the sale of acid. "It took me over a month to reach her. She was an introvert. I met Alok [Dixit, partner] before meeting her. During our first meeting, they were apprehensive about how we would treat the story. They didn't want it to be a scandalous thriller. It took me some time to win her faith. When we got them to Mumbai, they finally opened up."
Quiz her if wooing a mainstream Bollywood star was easy, and Gulzar says she was fortunate to find an artiste who understood her vision, in Padukone. "Deepika was the first actor we met, and she said yes in 10 minutes." Mention to her that Padukone's look has a heart-wrenching impact, and she says, "We didn't want to make her look like Laxmi. The idea was to show how Deepika's face would look, God forbid, had it been damaged by acid. It was spooky how we nailed the look during our first session with prosthetics. That day, we knew we had our Malti."
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