Chhapaak: Why Deepika Padukone And Not Alia Bhatt? What Were Acid Attack Survivor Laxmi Agarwal’s Fears About The Film? Director Meghna Gulzar Reveals- EXCLUSIVE

The trailer of Chhapaak has been amassing praises and Deepika Padukone’s portrayal of an acid attack survivor is quite touching. Here’s Meghna Gulzar as she narrates her experience of meeting Laxmi Agarwal, some time ago, bringing her story on celluloid and much more

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Chhapaak: Why Deepika Padukone And Not Alia Bhatt? What Were Acid Attack Survivor Laxmi Agarwal’s Fears About The Film? Director Meghna Gulzar Reveals- EXCLUSIVE
The trailer of Meghna Gulzar’s Chhapaak has been released. It delves into the real story of the acid attack survivor, Laxmi Agarwal and her struggles thereafter. Deepika Padukone essays the role of Malti, her character is modeled on Laxmi’s life and the trailer has been amassing praises from the word GO.

We spoke to Meghna Gulzar, and she narrated her journey in showcasing Laxmi’s life on celluloid and what prompted her to cast Deepika.

What made you to take up a serious subject based on the real story of an acid attack survivor?
This content came to me just after Talwar and that’s when I thought of the subject. I met Laxmi in 2016 and had several conversations with her. Then, I collaborated with a writer called Atika Chohan. We started putting a structure together and realised that telling this story telescopically like a biopic, will narrow down its impact. We looked at the legislative and social implications of acid violence and acid survivors in our country.

Particularly, because Laxmi’s criminal case has set a precedence that nobody in years has so far got as punishment for an acid attack. Laxmi’s PIL was also critical as a new section was created in IPC for Acid Violence. So, we wanted to broad base it a little and that’s how we set about putting the screenplay.

What was Laxmi’s state of mind when you met her back then?
Laxmi was a little apprehensive in the beginning because not all her interactions with the media had been very positive. Sometimes, her story was often romanticised and what she felt was that when you romanticise it, you take away her struggle. It is very challenging to live that life and she is an exception where she got medical treatment, legal recourse, an opportunity to be the face of a jewellery brand, and also to walk the ramp. But, that is not the trajectory of all acid attack survivors. So it's important to keep that in mind. So yeah, she was concerned.

I told her to rest assured that as neither am I going to trivialize it, nor generalize it, neither oversimplify anything. I will tell it as it is.

So it took a while and she opened up slowly; we have been in touch over the last 3 years and she is much more comfortable with me now, and even confides a lot in me. We have developed a nice bond, gradually.


How did you think of Deepika Padukone as the protagonist?
Two reasons- first, the challenge of the character, in terms of performance and second, her physicality. When I saw Laxmi's pictures before the attack, it was only Deepika's face that came to my mind. I go by instinct completely, so I met her. She said she was looking for something light, but this subject is too compelling for her to pass on. I was so overwhelmed that it was very spontaneous for her as well to come onboard.

Weren't you tempted to take Alia Bhatt again after the big success of Raazi?
The thing is you don't cast someone because of a successful collaboration. You cast for a film because of the suitability of the actor to the character. That is most important. The physicality of the actor and character must match.

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