Other glamorous movie stars have sacrificed their looks for a choice role, but none so courageously as Bollywood’s celebrated Deepika Padukone.
In Chhapaak, the actress who has been named “India’s Most Beautiful Woman” (the Indian edition of People), “Most Desirable Woman” (The Times of India), the “World’s Sexiest Woman” (the Indian edition of FHM) and “Sexiest Asian Woman” (UK magazine Eastern Eye), transcends her beauty in her portrayal of a frightfully scarred survivor of an acid attack (chhapaak is “splash” in Hindi).
Now 34 in real life, you hardly realize how good Padukone is, since she’s so natural—and credible--in showing the growth of her character as she transitions from a lovely and vivacious young student to the horribly disfigured and emotionally crippled victim. Padukone’s feat is even more impressive in that Chhapaak spans over 10 years, and it’s not until an extended flashback towards the end that you get a good look at her face prior to the horrific attack (which is seen only in quick cuts and mostly hidden by her hair during an early establishing scene).
Chhapaak, which opened last week, is based on a true story—and hardly an unusual one. In fact, a closing note relates that acid attacks on women have only increased since Laxmi Agarwal, the brave woman who inspired the movie, won a Supreme Court ruling in 2013 restricting sales of acid.
At the unveiling of the Chhapaak trailer last month, Padukone, who also produced the movie, tearfully admitted being overwhelmed after seeing the finished film the first time.
“It’s not often where you come across a story where you know instantly in the first few minutes of meeting a director that this is what you want to commit your life to, and Chhapaak is that for me,” she said. “It’s been an incredible journey emotionally putting it together, and I feel like irrespective of how it’s received and how it does, it will be my most special film of my career.”
Padukone added, “I hope you see in it what we saw in it. We’ve made it with a lot of love, a lot of passion, a lot of enthusiasm--with a lot of responsibility. I’m just lost for words.”
And at the end of the Chhapaak credits, a title reads: “No animals or humans were harmed.”
Deepika Padukone speaks at the premiere of the "Chhapaak" trailer.