NH10 just like the name, poster and trailer suggests – isn’t for everyone. It’s as ugly and hard on your face as you fear the world to be, but always wish that, it never touches you.
1) ‘Ph’ se ‘Fantastic’: Anurag Kashyap’s AKFPL always ensures quality. Add Vikramaditya Motwane (Udaan, Lootera) and Navdeep Singh (Manorama Six feet under) and you have all credibilities for a world class product. NH10 makes the highway settings so believable that as a viewer you feel trapped into it and hoping that the protagonists escape unhurt. The film makes you wince, squirm, shriek and momentarily close eyes too. The two hours look adequate, the cast are right in place (including surprise Deepti Naval cameo), the pace and script keep you on the edge. The background music though could have been better.
2) Ugly: Early into the movie the protagonists recommend that keeping a gun is a safety measure. It’s ironical that two high flying executives in midst of job stress and below average marital relationship, think of gun as a precautionary measure. I have always believed that if gun possession was made legal, world population would be significantly going down every day.
Humans are more dark than bright; and NH10 is nothing more than a reflection of reality. The contrast between your city, AC, sofa, the Malls and five miles down in the outskirts is too stark to believe. Watch NH10 for what your country is coming down to, for how much humanity is stooping low and for a fair idea on how much freedom/ safety measures you or your loved ones must take when venturing outside comfort zone. Specially the first incident, early in the movie and how presence of mind saves Anushka. Each Indian lady has to carry that speed of thinking.
3) Anushka Sharma: 2015 was yet to see a female lead performance of the level we got from Kangana, Alia, Huma or Priyanka in 2014. But producer Anushka was brave to bank on NH10 and lead the way. Her strong performances are helping erase the lip surgery blemish fast. She must have gone through some depression post the mishap and would have gathered all strength to fight back. And fight back she does. Anushka carries the movie on her shoulders – broadly, proudly and decisively. Watch her towards the end lighting a cigarette and watching the fun as NH10 strongly underlines women empowerment.
4) Gender horror: While movie websites will mark it as thriller, NH10 gives the nightmares of a horror movie, brilliantly assembled, frame by frame. It also underlines the darkness within. A male colleague mocks in office how presentations by pretty ladies are appreciated, irrespective of content. When a mother is being slapped hard by his grandmother, the 12yr old son giggles. The local theatre in a village has only men doing female roles. The police is too terrified to intervene in a brutal honour killing incident. In Haryana, every man looks at a women with one objective, irrespective of age; and everywhere women are described on walls as ‘saali randi’.
I have always believed unless you have the house, bank balance, car and family to protect you, being born a girl in India is close to a curse. NH10 showcases that but also with a foreground of how a lady can rise up to the occasion, if she wants to.
5) Heat of the moment: There are few questionable decisions taken by the protagonists. When Neil Bhoopalam intervenes amidst a fight, you want him not to (but secretly wish every Indian man had that dare). Was Neil’s ego so important that he had to go after the ruffians later? Was he right in leaving Anushka alone in the car? Should Anushka have taken help from the first jeep of people? In unfortunate circumstances, it’s only presence of mind, instinct and temperature of the blood which decides what next to do. Those decisions can be debated, and it’s good that a movie provokes a healthy debate.
Rating: 4.25/5 (averaged with friends). Must watch.
Box Office: Sat 6pm show was about half hall full in Singapore. The movie belongs to the ‘Ugly’, ‘Shahid’, ‘Citylights’ genre – great cinema but ones which Indian masses struggle to appreciate. Will Indian masses give so much importance to a lady fighting for her right to live life in her own terms? I doubt it. At best it will break even.