My very first reaction to my friends while watching the first 15 minutes of the movie was, “plllleaasee I am begging you, lets get out”. But this was partly because I am a female, living in one of the safest possible city in India (look at the irony of the sentence) and not used to such brutality and barbarous side of life. But once I got over it, the movie moved every drop of soul in my body. I literally was shocked and shaking till an hour after coming out of the movie-hall, thank god some booze after that killed that buzz 😛
NH10 is the highway which connects the National Capital with the frontier areas of Punjab. You would get a glimpse of the static life of Haryana districts en route to some exotic holiday destinations in the neighboring states. However for people living in cities and town, would actually not want to dive deeper, it is a journey with both fleeing and fighting struggle for space, till the time comes to stop running. Meera (Anushka Sharma) and Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam) make for a happy couple. They are your typical urbanites — well off and connected to people in power. Arjun plans a holiday tour for Meera’s birthday and on the drive they witness a crime on their way and get sucked into it before understanding anything. Now, their lives are at stake and the only thing to fall upon is their respective will power. This is a lone woman in a man’s world, the kind of world where women are killed before they are born, or dumped, after they draw their first breath, in rubbish bins. It is the land of the Khaps, where caste and gender determine whether you will live or die. Or, worse, how you will live and die.
The build-up and the direction in the movie is brilliantly tight and you just don’t want to miss one second. There is a cat-and-mouse chase game which binds you to to your seat and fills your heart with a fear which leaves you helpless and deserted in land of dry hills and dusty bushes. Director Navdeep Singh employs minimalist and consistently effective touches to create a crackling, tension-filled on-screen atmosphere that could shake the toughest of souls out of their complacent stupor. The focus of NH10 is primarily on the harried figure that is fleshed out by co-producer and lead actress Anushka Sharma. She bears the burden rather well, conveying a range of moods as she moves from the vulnerable to the fearless in a battle in which the odds are stacked heavily against her. Other cast which includes Neil Bhoopalam, Darshan Kumaar, Deepti Nawal are cast well and they dive in their most grey characters with ease and you can’t help but feel pity, foolish and angry. The sinewy narrative is gritty, gripping and grinding. Dialogue is sparse, the editing is crisp, and the cinematography is of the finest order. Some of the violence in NH10 is gut-wrenchingly gruesome, but much of it mercifully stays off camera.
The thought which bugged my mind throughout the movie and even after the movie was the whole situation could be easily true. I could be travelling across some Haryana Punjab districts and stumble upon a crime, which is like a daily recurring scenario for the people living there. And then if I or anyone spoke or raised voices against the brutality, we would find ourselves in a similar situation, helpless, struggling for our lives. And the whole idea seriously scares me to my core!!