Movie ‘Chhapaak’ - Psychological Analysis


The biographical film, ‘Chhapaak’ chronicles the story of an acid-attack survivor, Laxmi Aggarwal. Having suffered the brutal attack at the age of 15, Laxmi went on a campaign against acid violence and acid sales, gaining nationwide support.

Description of the Movie

Laxmi Aggarwal after a brutal acid attack at the age of 15, didn’t lose hope and worked further as the director of Chhanv Foundation, an NGO which is dedicated to helping the survivors of acid attacks in India. 

15 years after activist Laxmi Aggarwal turned her life around following a vicious acid attack, her story of strength and resilience has made its way to the big screen. The movie highlights the remarkable efforts made by her and the impact that they had on the acid violence circumstance in the country.

Character’s Position in the Family 

We see that the family supports Malti mostly in the beginning. They also motivate her to live life happily again, but then eventually, they start disagreeing about the court sessions in which she has to visit more often. Because of the acid attack, she was forced to undergo the traumatic ordeal of multiple facial surgeries, a prolonged battle with her ruthless attacker legally, struggle to find a job, and come to terms with her new-found beauty as well.

The personality of the Character 

At first, recently after the attack, Malti’s confidence got shattered because of her disrupted acid-attacked face. But gradually, she became stronger and self-confident towards her life and goals. She stood till the last for her and the other victims. She also struggled hard to fulfill her family needs along with her brother’s medications. 

The Malti prior acid attack and after the attack were two different personalities. She was joyous, chirpy, loved to get dressed up, and saw herself as a beautiful girl all over. But after the attack, she became more responsible, strong, and then felt beautiful by heart afterward. 

Strength of the character 

Her survival and fight back is shown when Malti is in and out of court, fighting the case against Babbu and filing a PIL to see the open sale of acid banned. In July 2013, Laxmi finally won her battle in court when a set of new restrictions on the sale of acid got issued that included- a ban on sale to minors and furnishing a photo identity card before buying it, among other restrictions as well. 

There is a group of survivors celebrating after achieving a small milestone. Amol asks them to stop, saying the battle against gender-based violence isn’t over yet. Malti then tells him that, You’re not the one attacked by acid. It’s me and these women. We have to decide when to celebrate. These tiny, subtle moments send a strong message to society about the strength a woman holds. 

The weakness of the Character 

Malti at first got weakened regarding all the messages that Babbu has sent, if she would have told her parents about it at the first stage, then maybe the consequences would have been different.

Psychological Problem faced in the Movie

Monsters abound, and as does humanity, when she sees compassionate folk rally around her in the form of doctors, lawyers, well-wishers demonstrating the real power of collective altruism in the society. Sometimes a tad over jealousy and overcompensating in its depiction of the lawyer’s husband is extraordinarily understanding light. 

Behavioral Analysis of the Character 

The character shows the light of altruism. It is the selfless concern for the welfare of others. Altruism could be differentiated from a feeling of duty and loyalty. Altruism focuses on a motivation to help others or a want to do good without reward, while duty focuses on a moral obligation towards a specific individual.

Interpersonal Relationship of the Character 

She lived a happy and simple life loving everyone around her. But when an event or a situation disturbs or upsets the child or the adult, it is considered frustrating and that’s the same thing that happened with Malti. She got frustrated for sometime after the attack and kept a pace between her and everyone. 

Message Conveyed

It is much about individual suffering as it is about craving dignity and normalcy in life. Terror management theory suggests that human morality causes existential dread and terror and that much of human behaviour exists as a buffer against this dread.

The movie also teaches the audience and especially women that not only external beauty matters, your thoughts, but your strength also matters the most. And that each woman is graceful in her own way and she will always have a right to say NO when it comes to her choices.

Critical Analysis 

Apparently, Chhapaak is based on a real-life situation but there is nothing binding the film to this story, which is generic in nature since there is very little in it beyond the activist angle - like the personal relationships of the protagonist, hardly dealt with. 

There are many other ways in which the story could have proceeded and the fact there are so many acid attacks in India (shown at the film’s conclusion) means that the issue is a socio-political one that needs to be investigated. Blaming the free availability of acid in the market for the attacks tends to trivialize the issue, which could have something to do with patriarchy. The film is fiction and ‘speculation’ might be outside it's scope but socio-political suggestions could have been woven into the narrative to make the film thought-provoking.

The Bottom Line

This movie, according to me, would have been the worst nightmare of life, but as a matter-of-fact, it gave new wings to the existence of the girl. Life would have written in her fate and that’s why she had been so strong to fight for herself and then the other victims as well. 

After this analysis, I would really appreciate my and other internal beauty of strength and thought above the beauty when we shine so much in front of the world we live in. And also, life can be restarted no matter how much bad happens and we should keep going on.  

Written By - Pavas Shrigyan

Edited By - Kashish Chadha

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