If there are film aficionados who feel kids should watch NH10, they must have sired monsters and zombies to form such opinion.
The thriller also refers to issues like women’s emancipation and honour killing. It sends out a clear message. The new hero is the heroine. She can smoke and kill and talk sex and drive monstrous MUVs at night. She is a woman with balls. That’s women’s emancipation. Docile Seeta turns Geeta, the savior and avenger, and since it’s the new age, just a whip or ‘hunter’ is not enough to settle scores. You need iron rods to brutally beat MCPs and the proponents of patriarchy into pulp.
Meera (Anushka Sharma) is the emancipated, go-getting, new age upwardly mobile enviably successful career woman. Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam) is her hubby who is warm, obliging, smiling, soft-spoken, forever horny, considerate, caring, loving, supportive, liberal, rich, and protective. He buys her a gun when some goons harass her late in the night. Next, he buys her a holiday to let her get over the incident and alleviate her mood. They drive down NH 10 to their holiday destination, stop at a dhaba for tea, and witness a gang of men beating up a young couple, the wife pleading for help.
Arjun tries to intervene, is slapped by the gang leader who asks him to stay away since it was his family matter and the girl was his sister. She obviously had run away with the guy against her family’s wish. As the gang bundles the couple in a MUV and leaves, a pissed off Arjun follows them, disregarding Meera’s pleadings. He locates the gang’s MUV, takes Meera’s gun, asks her to wait for him in the car, and goes out looking for the gang. He finds them torturing the couple, brutally beating them up, amidst dunes and bushes. He is scared and decides to return. In the meantime Meera, having found he had left his mobile in the vehicle, comes looking for him. Both are discovered and caught. The gang kills the boy and the girl and buries them. As it turns its attention to Meera and Arjun, a fracas takes place, one of the gang members is killed.
Meera and Arjun run for their lives. Night descends but full moon provides sufficient light to shoot the film. Arjun is badly hurt. Meera leaves him under a railway culvert and goes out looking for help. The run and chase continues all through the long unending night. Does Meera manage to get help? Does she succeed in saving Arjun?
I’m sure there will be many who will be showering praises over Anushka Sharma’s performance. In my view, the actress, who plays the girl picked up by her brother and brutally beaten and killed later, delivers the only credible and creditable performance in the film.
All others act stereotypically. Anushka Sharma is under constant focus. Irrespective of her besmeared mascara, her superficial hyperactive caricature of a hunted & scared woman in the unknown Jat terrain is unconvincing and bland. The totally contrived and implausible screenplay is the real culprit here. The new age writers are good at writing anecdotal scripts and dialogues without adding their unique perspectives. They don’t even care for plausibility of their narrative, scenes and characterizations. Likewise, new age actors deliver referenced performances, and the new age directors indulge in referenced shot-divisions and storytelling.
It’s a typical genre film with two comparatively real moments. One when the couple is caught at the dhaba and bundled into the MUV and taken away and the other when the girl pleads for mercy while being beaten brutally. Even these scenes could have been written and directed better for some heart-rending and chilling impact. Those who are really keen to use violence as an element to engage film audiences, I suggest they study Brillante Mendoza’s Kinatay to understand that less the drama, more palpable is the fear.
Director : Navdeep Singh
Producer : Anushka Sharma, Vikramaditya Motwane, Sunil Lulla
Artists (Cast) : Darshan Gandas, Anushka Sharma, Neil Bhoopalam, Deepti Naval, Ravi Jhankal
Production Company(S) : Clean Slate Films, Phantom Films
Music Director : Amit Trivedi