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Siraj Syed

Siraj Syed is the India Correspondent for and a member of FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. He is a Film Festival Correspondent since 1976, Film-critic since 1969 and a Feature-writer since 1970. 



Chhapaak song released with a splash bash

Chhapaak song released with a splash bash

Exactly a week before the film’s release, the makers of Chhapaak released the title track at a media get-together held on Friday afternoon, at the JW Marriott Hotel, Juhu, Mumbai. Present on the occasion were Gulzar, Meghna Gulzar, Deepika Padukone, Vikrant Massey, Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani and Loy Mendonca.

Chhapaak, the word, means the sound created when a liquid is splashed, is a film about a woman who had acid splashed on her face, and is based on a true story. It is directed by Meghna Gulzar and stars Deepika Padukone and Vikrant Massey. Gulzar, Meghna’s father, a veteran director and lyricist, has penned the lyrics for the film’s songs. Meghna and Deepika are also producers on the film, which has music by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. Also present on the occasion was Laxmi Agarwal, the Delhi-based acid-attack survivor.

Three brave women were on the stage that day: Deepika Padukone, who turned producer (her Ka Films is a co-producer with FoxStar) with Chhapaak, the co-writer, co-producer and director of the film, Meghna Gulzar, and the woman who did not let a disfigured face stop her from living a full life, Laxmi Agarwal. All three had a tough time fighting tears, as they spoke to the audience about their experiences and took questions from the audience. Deepika who, plays Malti, a character inspired by Laxmi, was visibly choked, and could hardly speak. She said that this happens every time she sees the trailer. "Irrespective of how the film is received and does (at the box office), Chhapaak will be the most special fim of my career," she managed to say. Laxmi Agarwal is now a TV show host and a campaigner with Stop Acid Attacks and Stop Sale Acid. Deepika profusely thanked her for trusting the unit of Chhapaak with her story. Malti’s character has been described as Unfettered, Uninhibited and Unputdownable.

Shankar Mahadevan, Vikrant Massey, Meghna Gulzar, Ehsaan Noorani, Deepika Padukone, Gulzar(partly seen) and Loy Mendonca

The Chhapaak title song, which also released on social media, is a montage of Malti's trauma and her brave fight for justice. Vikrant Massey plays her real-life partner, Alok Dixit. On demand, Shankar Mahadevan sung the track, which, in the film, is sung by Arijit Singh. Asked why he did not sing the song himself, Shankar praised Arijit whole-heartedly and modestly excused himself. Two of the three songs are sung by Arijit while the third is in the voice of Siddharth Mahadevan, Shankar’s son.

Gulzar shared the fact that ‘Chhapak’ is a very difficult word to fit poetically, into metre and rhyme, but he had to obey the instructions of his daughter. She told him that he should just create space to fit in the word and Shankar would place it in the song, and that is what exactly happened. Working with Gulzar was exciting, commented Shankar. Lyrics had to be simple yet meaningful, on the thin line between surreal and common, and Gulzar gave the music directors just that.

Responding to a question about how Ranveer Singh, Deepika’s actor-husband, felt about Vikrant Massey’s performance, considering he is her husband and the couple have put in the money, Deepika denied that Ranveer had financed the film at all. “It’s all my money,” she insisted. As far as commenting about Vikrant’s performance was concerned, “Ranveer has not seen the film yet, so how can he comment?” she asserted. Deepika was last seen in Padmaavat and Meghna’s last film was Raazi, both garnered praise and were box-office successes too.

Gulzar once wrote a song (Kinara, 1977) that went, ‘Naam gum jaayega, chehra yeh badal jaayega, Meree aavaaz hee pehchaan hae, Gar yaad rahe’(name will be lost, this face will change, my voice is my recognition, if remembered). Interestingly, he has now written in Chhapaak, ‘Koyee chehra mitaakey, Aor aankh sey hataakey, Chand chheenten udaakey, Jo gayaa, Chhapaak sey pehchaan le gayaa’ (Someone, by erasing the face, and moving it away from sight, showering some drops, went away, in the process, with a splash, took away recognition). Both are sad songs, but the present one is lyric of deep anguish and is picturised as a background song, without lip-sync. It is a totally different milieu, which finds Gulzar in his element again.

Song link:

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.

Bandra West, Mumbai


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