The makers of the Bollywood film Chhapaak, a biopic on acid attack survivor and activist Laxmi Agarwal, on Wednesday, released a video on social media platforms highlighting the prevalence of hassle-free purchase of acid bottles in the country, despite a Supreme Court diktat on it. The video, which has been titled ‘Won’t Buy Won’t Sell’, was shared by Deepika Padukone, who plays Malti in the film, director Meghna Gulzar and actor Vikrant Massey, on their social media handles.
Padukone, in her tweet in which she shares the video, has written, “Acid has corroded many lives, crushed many dreams, dashed many hopes and scarred many futures.”
In the opening minutes of the video, Padukone says, “The biggest reason why acid is thrown is acid itself.” She continues, “In order to find out how easily acid bottles are being sold and bought in the country, we thought of doing a social experiment.” Padukone then leads the viewer into the experiment, conducted through a sting operation, where actors, posing as common people from different walks of life, approached shopkeepers asking for acid bottles.
Padukone is seen sitting in her vehicle, keenly observing the events unfolding through the hidden cameras. Shopkeepers are seen to have mixed responses—majority are seen to provide acid bottles to their customers without any hesitation or verification, while one asks for the customer’s ID proof, much to Padukone’s relief. When the customer demanded more dangerous acids, the shopkeepers were seen to provide them without second thoughts. Some shop owner joked that “if the acid falls on your finger, it will burn.” This is before he sells the acid bottle to the customer. Some shopkeepers also ask the buyers if they “plan to throw it at someone’s face,” before making the transaction. Padukone, at one point, helplessly remarks, “They are not even a little afraid.”
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Towards the end, Padukone admits that a total of 24 bottles had been purchased in a day, as she illustrates the fact that this has happened despite the Supreme Court ruling that set restrictions and procedures for the sale of acid. Four acid attack survivors make their appearance in the video to point out the measures to be followed to prevent the illegal sale of acids—that the buyer needs to be above 18, the buyer must have a valid ID, and the seller must report the sale to the police.
Towards the end, Deepika Padukone syas, “I think it is our responsibility, along with the shopkeepers, to immediately inform the police when we see someone buying or selling acids illegally.” She ends the video, saying, “Acid is being thrown, because it is being sold.”