×

Bollywood Film ‘Chhapaak’ Makes Serious Splash

Bowing to rave reviews in India, “Chhapaak” (Splash) a Hindi-language film directed by Meghna Gulzar, an Indian director who was educated at NYU Tisch, is opening in North America on Friday.

The daughter of Bollywood star Raakhee and Oscar-winning songwriter mono-monikered Gulzar, she directed music videos before breaking through with 2015’s “Talvar.” Her next film 2018’s “Raazi,” grossed $29 million worldwide.

Chhapaak,” starring Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, is based on the real-life case of Laxmi Agarwal, who at age 15 was splashed with acid by a man whose romantic overtures she had refused. The film follows Malti as she goes through court cases, surgeries and becomes an activist for other acid attack victims.

“I felt this is a subject that is not as much in the forefront of public consciousness as much as it should be, particularly because of how rampant it is in our society, not only in India but also internationally,” the director said.

Agarwal also spearheaded a movement to ban acid sales in the country, going all the way to the Supreme Court to get the government to act on the issue.

Popular on Variety

“So for many reasons hers is a landmark case,” Gulzar said. “More than anything else, the way she has lived her life, the way she has overcome her trauma and basically resurged from an unfortunate incident and used it to strengthen herself and used it positively as an example for other survivors is extremely inspiring.”

“It took a while to earn her trust,” Gulzar said of getting Agarwal’s OK to make the film a few years ago. The activist was not so “extroverted” at the time, she added.

Related Content Deepika Padukone turns producer for “Splash”

Her main concern was that her story would not get trivialized. So although there are songs (some with lyrics by her father, Gulzar) in the film and a love interest, as is the case in most Hindi films, this is not a Bollywood picture.

When Gulzar pitched Padukone, the performer was not only willing to act in the film, but also took on a producing role. “I saw a very striking resemblance between her and Laxmi before the attack, I had seen those pictures [of the activist]. So for me, that was my primary reason to approach Deepika from the start. It just so happened that she also was so touched by the power of the story. She was looking to become a producer. We had a conversation whether it would be OK for her to come on board as a producer and for me it was a validation on two levels, one as an actor agreeing to do your film and then as a co-producer.”

Fox Studios India is widely releasing “Chhapaak” (Splash) at 100 sites in North America, day and date with its India release on Friday, as well as in theaters in the U.K., UAE, Australia and Germany.

More Film

  • Rachel Brosnahan25th Annual Screen Actors Guild

    Film News Roundup: Rachel Brosnahan Starring in Sci-Fi Movie 'Distant'

    In today’s film news roundup, Rachel Brosnahan will try science-fiction, documentaries about Herb Alpert and Sasha Joseph Neulinger find homes, and Cameron Boyce’s “Runt” gets a premiere. CASTING Rachel Brosnahan will star with Anthony Ramos in Amblin Partners’ upcoming comedic sci-fi film “Distant.” Will Speck and Josh Gordon will direct from Spenser Cohen’s script about [...]

  • Aldis Hodge Regina King

    Aldis Hodge Gushes Over Working With First-Time Film Director Regina King

    Regina King is on a roll. After winning an Oscar for “If Beale Street Could Talk” and starring as masked vigilante Sister Knight in HBO’s “Watchmen,” King is gearing up to make her film directing debut with “One Night in Miami.” Adapted by Kemp Powers from his play of the same name, the film dramatizes a [...]

  • Jon Berg

    Netflix Developing Female-Fronted Comedy Film With Jon Berg (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix is developing an untitled female-led comedy with producer Jon Berg, the former Warner Bros.’ co-president of production. The writing team of Jordan Roter (“The Tear Down,” “Camp Rules”) and Monica Corcoran Harel (New York Times, Marie Claire) has been attached to write the project. Netflix is keeping the logline under wraps. The project will [...]

  • Bob Chapek Disney CEO

    Why Wall Street Is Unhappy (for Now) With Disney's CEO Change

    We all knew the end was coming. Bob Iger had promised, time and again, that the end was coming. But the rather abrupt announcement Tuesday afternoon that he would relinquish his longtime role as CEO of the Walt Disney Co. — and that theme parks head Bob Chapek would succeed him at the top of [...]

  • Dau

    'DAU. Natasha': Film Review

    There’s a school of critical thought that believes no contextual details or backstory to a film — be they to do with its source material, the circumstances of its production, or its makers’ motivation — should be examined or factored into a review of it, that the final product up on the screen is the [...]

  • The Invisible Man Movie

    Box Office: 'The Invisible Man' Eyes $20 Million-Plus Debut

    With “The Invisible Man,” a terrifying thriller starring Elisabeth Moss, Universal is attempting to revive the cinematic prospects for its classic monster properties. After “The Mummy” with Tom Cruise flamed out theaters in 2017, the studio scraped its plans to form an interconnected Dark Universe and instead retooled its vision to create standalone stories unique [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content