BENGALURU: Meghna Gulzar’s Chhapaak has become a dialogue starter about issues revolving around acid attack victims. Such was the impact of the movie that the Uttarakhand government declared a pension of up to `10,000 for acid attack victims. But how real was the movie?
Bengaluru’s Pragya Prasun Singh gives a huge thumbs up to the Deepika Padukone-starrer film. “When I watched the scene where Deepika was screaming in the hospital in pain and the one where she was identifying the culprit, I felt the exact same way,” says Singh, who survived an acid attack 12 years ago. “Of course, there could have been a lot more things that could have been added, but at the end of the day, people need to understand that it’s a movie, which needs to have creative freedom to attract people to watch it,” she adds.
Singh is now an activist and social worker who has been ﬁghting to provide relief and rehabilitation to fellow acid attack and burn survivors through her organisation, Atijeevan Foundation, which was founded in 2013. In 2006, Singh’s life took a complete turn when a man, whose advances she had spurned, threw acid at her, 10 days after her wedding. Since the launch of the movie trailer, a lot of changes have been visible in the way people look at victims.
Thanks to the awareness that comes with the movie, people look at survivors not out of disgust but out of compassion, she says. “Many people used to show us sympathy but not in public. That has changed. Now they don’t mind posting a picture of us on social media,” adds Singh. Initially, when the movie was released, Singh was apprehensive about making her young daughters watch the movie, because she didn’t know how things have been shown in the movie. But after seeing the impact, she is taking her daughter out for Chhapaak this weekend.
Praises for Meghna Gulzar and her team of Chhapaak for making such a film have been unstoppable. “Especially Padukone, because she is such a beautiful girl and didn’t have any inhibitions in giving up her glam image and portray one of us. Probably her presence made all the difference,” says Singh.
City-based Sabnam Sultana, a survivor from West Bengal, was attacked by her neighbour when she was 18. “We don’t want people to understand our pain by going through it, but at least, do not outcast us. It was an emotional moment when I watched the movie because it was like seeing someone else going through that kind of pain,” she says.