If the scarring of a beautiful face does leave more impact on us, then it says more about our obsession with feminine beauty than anything else. However, when a top-rated female director decides to bring the story of an acid attack survivor on screen, we do not want her to limit her gaze to resounding the magnitude of violence of the act.
Director Meghna Gulzar has announced that she is making a biopic on acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal’s life, which will star actor Deepika Padukone in the lead. Speaking to Mumbai Mirror, she delved into why she chose to cast Padukone as Agarwal. “I was instinctively convinced that Deepika would do justice to the character and the story. Also, her physicality matched with what I’d imagined for Laxmi’s character. I’m grateful and encouraged that she was so spontaneous in her decision to do the film. When you take a face as beautiful as hers and portray her as an acid attack survivor, the magnitude of the violence and damage is that much more resounding.”
Perhaps Meghna was just thinking about the visual impact she wanted to create as a director, when she said that last line.
Gulzar has set the bar high for herself with her previous works. We associate her with well-nuanced films, with powerful female protagonists. So it is kind of disappointing that she thought that the only way an acid attack survivor’s ordeal can be more resounding is when we can see the damage done to her physical beauty.
- Director Meghna Gulzar’s statement on Deepika Padukone essaying the role of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal limits the damage of the crime to the destruction of physical beauty.
- It seems to say that if a beautiful woman gets disfigured from an acid attack, then it leaves more impact on us.
- However, we expect that a talented director like Gulzar will cover other aspects of the impact of acid attacks on the survivors.
Physical beauty has a considerable hold on our social and individual psyche. Our society is obsessed with physical beauty, especially in case of a woman. Their physical appearance affects their desirability and social relevance. Thus, any ruin to it, does create a disturbance and impact on the average Indian mind. But we expect Gulzar to take her narrative beyond the physical damage. For survivors of acid attack physical harm is just the tip of the iceberg, the ensuing social and legal struggle to lead a normal life leads to so much emotional and mental trauma.
There is a lot to explore here than just replicating the enormity of the physical damage.
Why not concentrate more on the psychological trauma, the one which is often neglected in narratives of such incidences? Why not use this opportunity to strike up a conversation on how the damage done by acid attacks is not skin deep?
We have high expectations from both Gulzar and Padukone because we believe in their talents. We hope that they will not disappoint us by limiting the impact of this story to a visual one. A relevant subject like this needs to be multi-dimensional. It needs to have a depth which will challenge the viewer’s perception of physical beauty. Of how society’s conduct with acid attack survivors needs to break free of its reaction to their physical appearance. And put across the message that they do not need our pity. They need our encouragement and love.
Picture Credit : Deccan Chronicle
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.