When Deepika Padukone unveiled her look in Chhapaak, based on the life of an acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, people saw the beautiful actress’ decision to do the film as “gutsy”, “brave” and “life-altering”. Deepika, who has also turned a producer with the Meghna Gulzar directorial, says she didn’t think about her appearance in it and how people would react to her “different look”.
Apart from her talent, the audience and her fans have been in awe of her beautiful face. Asked if she saw Chhapaak in which she plays an acid attack survivor, as a risky film as she looks different, Deepika told IANS: “No, it is not something that ever crossed my mind… my appearance, the way I am going to look. In fact, that’s exactly what we want to challenge through this film. That we all have very set ideas, notions of what beauty is and we really want to challenge that and broaden that perspective.
“I never really thought about what people are going to think or say because I was going to look different from the way people have seen me on screen before,” she said.
The project is certainly very close to her heart and it didn’t take her long to say “yes” to it.
“Meghna came to me with the script and I was instantly drawn to Meghna’s honesty, to Laxmi’s story and her journey. I felt like it was very very powerful and I felt like as an actor, I definitely wanted to be a part of the film. Even as a person, I felt like there’s a really strong narrative in Laxmi’s life, and I wanted the world to see that,” she said.
It was back in 2005 when Laxmi, then just 16, was attacked by a 32-year-old man who threw acid on her because she had turned down his proposal. She didn’t let the incident pull her down.
Laxmi went on to work as director of a non-profit Chhanv Foundation and also associated with campaign Stop Acid Attacks.
Deepika was left so impressed by Laxmi’s story, among other things, that she decided to be attached to the film as a producer too.
“We finished the narration and I said yes to the film. I said, ‘wait a second, should we produce this film as well?’ Meghna was open to the idea. She and I came on board as producers and then we went around to studios and had Fox (Fox Star Studios) join us,” she said.
The film’s narrative leans on Laxmi but Deepika says it’s not a biopic.
“It also throws light on acid violence in our country,” she said.
The film’s team has women calling the shots. What was it like working on a film set full of powerful women?
“Gender has never figured in my scheme of things. I am not doing Chhapaak because it is by a female director. I am doing it because I really have faith in Meghna,” she said.
Chhapaak will release on January 10 and it also stars Vikrant Massey in the lead role.