DIRECTION: Navdeep Singh
DURATION: 1 hour 55 minutes
CAST: Anushka Sharma, Neil Bhoopalam, Darshan Kumaar, Deepti Naval
RATING – 4 stars
Fast-paced, Real, Scary and Brutal; Not for the faint-hearted
WARNING – This is not a movie for faint hearted. Highly violent and disturbing with some believable real life situations and numerous cold-blooded murders.
SPOILER ALERT: The below mentioned review has some spoilers.
From the director of Manorama Six Feet Under, comes yet another thriller. The story revolves around circumstances that lead the Gurgaon couple, Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam) and Meera (Anushka Sharma) on to a road trip that you wish they never took.
“Jahaan Gurgaon ke aakhiri mall khatam hote hain, wahin khatam ho jaave hai saari democracy aur constitution” [Translation: “Where the last mall of Gurgaon ends democracy and the Indian Constitution cease to exist from there”] sums up the essence of this entertaining yet thought provoking movie, brilliantly.
NH 10 shows how the sudden urbanization of some previously rural parts of India has led to a cultural conflict between the two. A patriarchal society where women are mere objects with no voice and rights finds it difficult to change and accept women’s demand for liberation. Obsession for the male heir has turned females into a scarce species. The impact of the problem has worsened to such an extent that a policeman father who is worried about how he would get his sons married refuses to help the protagonist due to the fear of being socially ostracized. People are killed in the name of honour killings, in a brutal, merciless and animal-like manner with no honour for the dead ones.
Within a space of few kilometres things go from good to worse, from flourishing democracy and rule of law to repression of women, thoughts and change. It shows the existence of all that is questioned by the urban society today. Just kilometres away from the Millennium City is where a crime is committed and it leaves you wondering whether things have really changed in India post-independence. Of course, when you have steroid like growth for some parts, it will lead to serious side effects on the rest of the body. And in this case the film NH 10 captures this very well.
Crisp editing coupled with a strong story line, cinematography, background music and Anushka’s brilliant performance all through are the highlights of the movie. Darshan Kumaar who played the husband’s role in Mary Kom plays the negative character and does complete justice to his role. Neil Bhoopalam effortlessly plays the urban executive’s character, civilized and willing to support what’s right. Neil swiftly switches from a zealous urban man whose ego has been hit into a repenting vulnerable man who ends up exposing himself and his wife to a horribly dangerous situation. Every character leaves a lasting impression on you. Be it the roadside wanderer, the mentally retarded man, the policeman at the Chowki, the Sarpanch’s daughter in law, the ‘Mama’ to name a few.
The film has several scenes that one can relate with and that show the brilliant observatory powers of both the script writer and the director. An urban male colleague with good education making a gender insensitive comment to a fellow female colleague is not much different in terms of attitude and thought than his rural counterpart. The scene where the little boy laughs as his grandmother slaps his mother brilliantly depicts how gender insensitivity, inequality and domestic violence are fuelled from an early age in rural India. The female sarpanch, played by Deepti Naval, defending the honour killing with “Jo karna tha, so karna tha” shows how females themselves have to come out of the patriarchal mindsets and respect their kind to bring about the necessary change.
The ending probably was a way too swift than it should have been. But the movie keeps you gripped right from the initial conversation between Arjun and Meera to the end. As the trailer said, “This season, the only way to survive amongst killers is to be one yourself.”
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