By Sunil Kumar

“Where the last mall ends; democracy comes to a full stop”. Paraphrasing a crooked policeman in the scarefest NH10; there’s something about Anoushka. Band Bajaa Baraat; Virat Kohli or verbose criticism of her over-the-top acting. But; for a change; she seems to have allied with the so-called “art” coterie and produced a different movie.

English: NH10 Rohtak

Visit sunil-kumar.co.in English: NH10 Rohtak (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NH10 is supposed to be an introduction to the ganglands of India; especially the Jat-infested khap panchayats that seem to exist everywhere in Haryana; if this picture is taken literally. Most urban Indians interact with this phenomenon in the periphery of our consciousness; somehow wishing away an unpleasant reality.

But keeping in line with the Hollywood aesthetic of realistic film-making that seems to have permeated our film-making consciousness; we are in for a slashfest; more blood equates to increased drama. Bye-bye to honest dhabawallas and smiling Sardarjis; we are in for misogynists and badly choreographed functions.

The story is partially based on the Manoj-Bubli honor killing in 2010; which evoked widespread condemnation from all sections of civil society and former home minister Chidambaram. The fictional element inserted here is the new-age yuppies present everywhere in India; two young people out on a vacation inserted into a world of strict caste segregation and feudal order.

Palaniappan Chidambaram (1)

Visit sunil-kumar.co.in Palaniappan Chidambaram (1) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although Sharma’s acting is pretty intense; and the direction suitably terrifying; one wonders whether movies such as this actually ought to be made. Without condemning anybody’s basic intellect; the mind is an impressionable; easily malleable entity. And since the 2012 Nirbhaya episode; we haven’t seen any positive change in the country; in fact the intensity and degradation seems to have increased.

NH10 seeks to milk the existing fear ethos; transforming into a ferocious monster; with tribal brutality seeking to shock; and eventually desensitize the observer into suspending his disbelief. Nobody in his right mind would actually intervene with armed goons; as they would possibly be aware of the consequences. But the movies fuel the invincible superhero idea; and our protagonist rushes into an armed confrontation; which actually results in his death.

Deepti Naval‘s villainous turn as the woman sarpanch was very watchable; but the movie in itself is very stark; near depressing. One can only yearn for 70s Hindi cinema; where we would have song-and-dance at such critical moments; and the movie would not lapse into full-scale realism. Rural India is increasingly aspirational; and would probably not appreciate this hackneyed potrayal.

The movie’s different; but mirrors the decay and depravity seeping into life in general. Hope Sharma produces and acts in a comedy next.


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