Chhapaak is a film that looks at Acid violence through the lens of Acid survivor Laxmi Agarwal’s story.
As Malti in the film, she comes from a humble, unprivileged background. Malti was attacked with acid on a street in New Delhi, in 2005. Her assailant was a man twice her age, whose advances Malti had clearly declined. Through Malti’s story, the film makes an attempt to understand the on-ground consequences of surviving an acid attack in India, the medico-legal-social state of affairs that transpire after the acid has been hurled and the face is irreparably burnt. As we closely follow Malti’s life over the years from her attack, we journey with her through her rehabilitation, her facial surgeries, her legal battle against her attacker and her constant struggle to become economically independent. In this time, Malti also joins a campaign against Acid violence and comes across other victims of Acid attacks as well.
Here she also meets Amol, the founder of the campaign. An emotional attachment forms between the two – an inexplicable bond, free from the conforms of society. But it is Malti’s game-changing PIL in the Supreme Court of India, with her lawyer Archana Bajaj, that inspires the Judiciary to amend to the laws on acid violence in 2013. Acid attack is granted its own legal section in the Indian Penal Code (Section 326 A, IPC) and the sale of acid is also regulated in the country, as a result of Malti’s PIL. All these narratives intertwined, make Chhapaak a gritty investigative piece – interspersed with a compelling courtroom drama and woven together around a deeply emotional core.
Above it all, Chhapaak is a story of triumph... of the unquashable human spirit.