Friday, 13 March 2015

NH10 :: Movie Review

NH10 is a neo noir genre flick that takes you on edge of the seat excitement, no holds barred cinematic journey comprising of grit, action, thrills and intrigue. The movie has been directed by Navdeep Singh whose debut movie Manorama six feet under (2007) is not only one of my favorites but is a cult flick in thriller genre and I am amazed what took him so long in coming out with his second movie. Coming to NH10, the landscape is ruthless, rugged and riveting. The emotions are primeval. Caveman tactics, with characters caught out of their hideouts kicking, dragging and screaming, are the prevalent mode of vindication. It's a tough world. And, obviously a very tough film to make. There is no state for the squeamish. And, perhaps that is the reason behind the movie's release getting delayed by a week with Censor Board objecting to usage of some cuss words and excessive violence in the movie. Herein, I would like to say that Kudos to Anushka Sharma for believing in this flick so much so that she decided to don the producer's hat for the first time by producing this film. The best part about NH10 is that Navdeep Singh has helmed it in the most realistic way. As the film progresses, it touches various social aspects prevalent in the society ; female foeticide, honour killings and the big cultural gap that is prevalent between urban & rural class especially when it comes to inter caste marriages. It also sheds light on how law and order under democracy goes for a toss when you move out from big concrete jungles out in the hinterland. Writer of the movie Sudip Sharma has ensured that the sarcastic remarks about deteriorating law & order are mouthed by cops only in the movie. When Anushka n Neil go to cops after she is harassed by some stalkers, the cop says, " Gurgaon to badhta bacha hai ji, kood to lagaega hi". In another scene where Anushka is driving with a cop in his jeep in the rural area, he says, " Madam Ji, Ye democracy to Gurgaon ke malls ke saath hi khatam ho jaati hai. Yahaan to Paani aur bijlee nahin pahunchti, democracy kahaan pahunchegi". It is hard hitting n realistically portrayed dialogues like these that add a further impetus to the narrative. Also, in a way the movie talks about women empowerment. How Anushka rubs off a filthy word scribbled down on a wall in a loo, how she gazes in the opponents eyes despite being told to look down. But, the best is saved for the last. In the climax, how Anushka lights up n smokes a cigarette before battering Darshan with an iron rod is a scene to watch out for. NH10 is a chilling, nerve wracking, edge of the seat thriller which gives you no time to breathe because of its racy narrative.             

STORY & SCREENPLAY  ( Spoilers Ahead )                                             ::               The story, screenplay as well as dialogues of the movie have been penned down by Sudip Sharma. As a writer, Sudip knows the rugged North Indian hinterland of blood savagery and abuses which he has penned down with finesse. He transports us out from the civilized society where we live in and takes us to rugged hinterland where lawlessness, casteism still rule the land and mindless belief in patriarchy leads to honor killings. His edgy, taut n racy script amalgamated with social issues is a winner all the way. No wonders, after hearing this script Anushka decided to produce this film. The movie begins with a corporate working couple, Meera (Anushka Sharma) & Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam) going to a party in Gurgaon. During the party Meera gets a call from her office and decides to leave for her office alone late night. On the way to office she is stalked by some lecherous guys leaving her traumatized. Arjun also gets disturbed to see her in this state and moreover, a sense of guilt is prevailing over him for not accompanying her during that fateful night. So, in order to relieve her from this stress he plans a getaway by booking a cottage on the outskirts of city and celebrate her birthday there. Soon, they hit the road i.e. NH10 happy and romancing which is short lived. En-route to the cottage, they decide to make a stopover at a Dhaba where a hapless young girl approaches Anushka with a plea to help her else she will be killed. However, Anushka ignores her and proceeds to the loo for a smoke. When she comes back to have food with Arjun, six men packed in SUV embark on the dhaba and start beating up that girl and a boy mercilessly. Arjun stands up and walks upto the man Satbir (Darshan Kumaar) who is beating up the couple and inquires about the matter. Satbir replies that she is his sister and it is their family matter. After beating them up mercilessly, they bundle them up in their SUV and are about to leave when Arjun again approaches them. This time, Satbir punches Arjun hard in his face and tells him to mind his own business before zipping away in his vehicle. Soon, Arjun n Meera also resume their journey with Arjun feeling frustrated for not being able to help the couple. After covering a short distance, Arjun finds Satbir's empty vehicle parked aside on a deserted road. Despite Meera's warning, he alights from the vehicle to lookout for them and soon Meera follows him. Hereafter, both of them witness the barbaric activities of Satbir and his accomplices who finally kill the couple for the sake of honor killing. Since Meera n Arjun have witnessed the killing, Satbir n his accomplices go after them. Now, begins a cat and mouse chase game and a melee ensues. Arjun gets critically injured and it is left for Meera to get them out of this difficult situation. Will they be able to come out of this situation safely, Will they be able to nail down Satbir & his accomplices is what forms the rest of the story.

STARCAST                                                                                         ::  The actors, in keeping with the no holds barred raw ambiance that the film exudes, take recourse to express the minutest of emotions. Due credit for this must be given to Jogi who is the casting director of this movie for choosing the apt starcast. Anushka Sharma, who made her debut with Rab ne bana di jodi (2008) has featured as leading lady in just eight movies in past seven years but has evolved as an actress with every release of hers. In NH10, it is Anushka who has stolen the show with her pure, deliberate, ferocious star power. The striking thing about her performance as Meera is how tightly coiled and tense it seems ; she's ready at a moment's notice to kiss or kill (or both), never passive, never merely a photographic subject. Troubled and brooding, angry and helpless, frustrated yet committed - she plays it all with uncharacteristic maturity. You can literally feel the pain n agony that her character undergoes in the movie through her effective portrayal. Anushka, who's very close - if she isn't there already - to becoming the star amongst stars in her generation. Her every gesture is fascinating. Neil Bhoopalam got a great opportunity to play the main lead in this movie and Oh Boy ! he has caught this opportunity with both his hands by giving an earnest performance. Neil fits into the narrative with minimal fuss, neither dominating the proceedings, nor getting overwhelmed by the weight of the script. But, the icing on the cake is the performance of Darshan Kumaar. In NH10Darshan gets to play a character which is in stark contrast to his portrayal of Onler Kom (a loving, caring husband and a doting father) in Mary Kom. If he excelled in Mary Kom by bringing just the right amount of sensitivity to his part, here he excels by doing exactly the opposite i.e. by bringing the right amount of goriness and brutality to his part. His expressions, body language and especially dialect are a treat for audience and these are hallmarks of a fine actor. Deepti Naval leaves a mark during her brief appearance as Ammaji who is not only the Sarpanch of a village but also mother of Satbir. Another actor who deserves a mention is Ravi Jhankal. He has portrayed the character of Satbir's savage uncle with utmost conviction who is always advising him to be more ruthless. He taunts Satbir for killing the boy with bullets whereas he deserved to be butchered with rod.

TECHNICAL FINESSE                                                                     ::          The soundtrack of the movie that has been composed by a battery of composers including Bann ChakrabortySamira Koppikar, Ayush Shrestha, Savera Mehta, Sanjeev-Darshan is radically different yet engaging. Chhil gaye naina sung by Kanika Kapoor & Le Chal Mujhe are the tracks which stay with you for a long time. Karan Gour's background music underscores every scene without hammering in the situations and is not that loud and jarring. Plenty of credit for the tonal correctness of the narrative must go to Arvind Kannabiran's brilliantly unadorned cinematography, which locks in on the stunning visuals of violence and action without falling into the mistake of making the frames look prettier than the grim situation that they are meant to capture. Arvind's cinematography uses cluttered garish spaces to create a sense of spiritual emptiness during times of tremendous stress and anxiety. A special mention of action directors Armin Sauer & Abdul Salaam Ansari for orchestrating the apt action sequences in the movie. Editor Jabeen Merchant imbues a raw style mood to the footage. But the sense of cinematic expansiveness is retained in the way the camera moves through the characters' restless lives, searching for positions of comfort in a situation laden with desperate anxiety. Jabeen has neatly packaged the action in runtime of 115 minutes with crisp n taut editing. The direction by Navdeep Singh is unblemished in every aspect of filmmaking & he deserves full marks for making a film with very strong sensory perceptions. We have seen some road trip gone awry thrillers earlier too but none could come close to the brilliance of Navdeep's subject, vision and treatment with which he has created this film. Kudos to Navdeep, as a director he has managed to keep a tight rein on the proceedings all the way upto a nail biting climax. He has also ensured that the movie does not look unconvincing or goes over the top at any place and maintains a tight grip.  

CONCLUSION                                                                                           ::       NH10 portrays a rare synthesis of real life credibility and cinematic flamboyance where-in narrative's over all mood is one of urgent crises point reached with optimum energy. It is one of the best thrillers I have seen in a long time which has come out good minus those jarring BGM & raunchy item numbers. I am giving it 4 stars out of 5.    

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