NH10 - Review

wogma rating: Buy the DVD already (?)
quick review:

You should watch it because it is uncomfortable.

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Wogma Review

You drive through a city, a city that looks like any other. A couple is driving to a party, engaging in the regular couple banter. You know danger is looming. You know because you have seen the trailer. Like the beginning of a typical Hindi horror film, the couple walks into the mouth of the lion that is going to gnaw it down. But, unlike the horror film, NH10 grips you by the collar and clenches at it through the two hours. When was the last time you could say that about a film? Even if you are uncomfortable through the length of the film.

And this is when you are prepared for the film. The trailer has ample warning, in fact over-preps you for the film's intensity. You go in expecting the worst things happening to the lead lady and even though they don't manifest, the discomfort is relentless.

From the word go, the writing hits upon taboo, gender divide, status of women in our society. Even before you get to the crux of the film, a scare is brought in. Much like newspaper headlines with shocking news day after day, tirelessly, the film hits you with one scary face of society and human being after another. So much so that you wonder if we are that any more - social or human.

Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam) and Mira (Anushka Sharma) are like two sides of you – scared and yet moved from the inside, enough to want to do something about the injustice that makes the world. There is no overt social message, but you are unsettled. Arjun and Mira, an urban couple, want to protect another couple which is being beaten up by their own family for dishonoring the family and caste.

But, NH10 is not only about honor killing or safety of women and so on. It is more a pointer at what human beings are capable of – when she is blinded by her beliefs or he wants to prove he's macho or they are blinded by a need for revenge. In any of these cases, they don't want or trust the system, they want control over their own matters.

Through this myriad of thoughts, the tension - through background music (or lack thereof), the camera work – stays just right. The chases, the situations are such that when you get respite from the build-up, you are ready for it. Despite your admiration for how real the situation is and constantly thinking about what you'd do if you were in their place, you welcome that relief in the form of a background song or an emotional scene or a cinematic liberty. Even though you know those wouldn't come to your rescue in real life.

Unfortunately, these same things takes away from the film. They remind you, you are only watching a film, after all. As much as you want to believe the ridiculous coincidences, they disconnect you from the characters and the situations who you were so close to, just a second ago.

Even so, it is a thriller indeed. A thriller so well-made that as I reach towards the end of what I want to say about the film, I haven't yet spoken about the most striking thing about the film - the performances. While you could call Neil Bhoopalam the hero(?) of the film, and he does his bit convincingly, your hatred toward Darshan Kumaar's Satbir takes up your emotional energy. And of course your worry for Mira.

Anushka Sharma has given it her all. You are watching Mira, a person you might see at a candle-light vigil, the woman who wants to make a place in this world of men (a world where an all men-committee decides how to sell a female hygiene product), a person who cares about a security guard doing his duty – a person like you and me. And even while, neither you nor I would like to be in the situation Mira finds herself in, we would all like to be like her when push comes to shove.

Especially, in the climax. But, for a film which attempts to keep things real, the climax is outlandish. The drama, a little over-stated. I guess, like the characters of the film, from the film-makers point of view too, it is a “you gotta do what you gotta do.”

What stays though is that despite the intentional laxity in the writing, your muscles stay taut. The mind stays worked up and alert thinking of what you would do in real life, despite the unreal coincidences. Most of all, the intensity doesn't leave you long after you've left the theater. How many thrillers can you say that about?

- meeta, a part of the audience

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Loads. Gory, more so because it is close to reality.
  • Language: A few abusive words used.
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A couple of lip-to-lips. Talk of having sex.
  • Concept: A couple gets into trouble for interfering with an honour killing.
  • General Look and Feel: Rusty and dusty, like any village.

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

  • Direction: 4
  • Story: 3
  • Lead Actors: 4
  • Character Artists: 3.5
  • Dialogues: 3.5
  • Screenplay: 4
  • Music Director: 3
  • Lyrics: 3

NH10 - Movie Details

NH10 - Trailer

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Comments (17)

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Anuj:

Trailer is too dark, gruesome and wannabe Tarantino'istic. Will not work among the audiences unless the film has a twist or a surprise element. Its too loud, dark and violent. Indian audiences have always preferred psychological violence (Kahaani, Satya, Ghajini) than gruesome physical violence on screen (unless enacted by star actors like Bachchan, Khans, Hrithik or Akshay). In all likelihood, this one would be a disappointment. You can indeed make a noir/revenge feminist film without going over the top (as Kahaani proved it and so did Khoon Bhari Maang 3 decades ago). NH10 seems way too eardrum rupturing for my liking.

kapil:

Trailer is too good. It really takes you in. Anushka, who has almost always done those sweet, bubbly girly roles, seems to be doing fairly well here. I have always loved her in those roles, now looking forward to see her in a dark one. Keeping my fingers crossed for her performance. But the way she shouts 'F**k you' towards the end of the trailer, made me feel that she will do justice to the role. That looked really intense. Most of all, it looks like its a no nonsense movie, with no consideration for masala movie lovers, which is what you would expect from Navdeep singh. I am booking my ticket for the Friday night show.

Fan:

Despite an extremely positive review from Meetu I would stay away on count of violence. Cannot stomach too much blood - films don't need to be violent to send a message.

guddu:

@Meetu u ave the reputation of being one of the harshest film critics of Bollywood, m glad that ur turning lenient and indulgent. :) :)

Sunit Khot:

Superb review. Reason why I left the match and saw the film this morning. Alid wasn't disappointed.

kapil:

WOW!! What a thriller. Thoroughly engrossing.
"Unfortunately, these same things takes away from the film. They remind you, you are only watching a film, after all. As much as you want to believe the ridiculous coincidences, they disconnect you from the characters and the situations who you were so close to, just a second ago." This is the crux.

Anuj:

The premise is a bit silly, yet a gripping and pulsating second half makes it a nice watch. Kudos for the effort Anushka Sharma!

meetu:

@Fan yeah, if you don't like violence, it's best to stay away from this one.

@guddu Hey, like you I enjoy what I enjoy and don't what I don't :P

@Sunit Thank you!

@Kapil You agree with the line you've quoted?

Dattaprasad Godbole:

@Meetu:

While I agree mostly with your opinion about the music, the intensity and staying power of the movie. I'm a bit disappointed at the line you gave from the climax of the movie.

I watched the movie after reading the review, and at the climax, it slightly lessened the experience cause when she says the line - I thought, yeah, I read that in wogma.

meetu:

@Dattaprasad I am so sorry. I deliberated over it quite a bit. I was going to keep the Hindi words out. I will delete the hindi line from the review after feedback, I agree with what you say.

kapil:

@Meetu. Yeah. Completely agree with your full review. I quoted that line, because I think that sums up the movie. Exactly same feelings I had while watching it. You have explained it beautifully.

meetu:

@Kapil Thank you!

kapil:

:)

IdeaSmith:

I just wanted to say I really enjoyed how you've written this review. This was one of those few movies that I watched without first having read your review. And your words were spot on, down to the last line. I saw the movie yesterday morning and then I couldn't sleep in the night.

Also, when the song you refer to came up, I actually groaned and said, "No really? You were going so well!" My friend pointed out that it provided much needed emotional respite for most people. It was such a gritty film, even with the breaks, I'm still disturbed by what I watched. If it had been completely unadulterated (if you can call it that), I doubt I and most other people would have been able to sit through it fully. As it was, all that kept me from bursting into tears in the theatre or just leaving midway was to tell myself, "It's a film. It's a film. It's just a film."

meetu:

Hey @IdeaSmith Thank you.

I know, Real life won't play background music, will it? And despite that the film reaches deep within.

Whether or not we could sit through it without the emotional and musical breaks, we'll have to wait for another film to know that. :P

Fan:

Had nothing better to do a few days ago, and so said to myself, hey why not give nh10 a look? As I wrote above, I had steadfastly avoided it as the trailer itself was too gory for me. Also, I am not amongst the Anushka fan brigade.

Having cleared this out, let's move on to my take on this film.

What a film to watch. From the word go, it was taut. The tension in the air was thick that it could be sliced with a knife. And the film just does not allow you a moment's reprieve to breathe and get the heartbeat in the comfortable zone - it just keeps on mounting like a Hitchcock film. No songs, no tom foolery, no side story to give you the pressure release valve. It was getting so much on the nerve that just a few minutes into the film and into the eventful evening around which the movie is based, that I wanted to stop watching it. The fateful evening on which the most part of the story is based stretched into the night. And it seemed that the film was showing each and every second of the night, it felt really looooong - like as if we are witnessing a real-time full night fight between the hunter and the hunted. If watching on the small screen can give so much terror, then I could imagine the effect it would have created in a film theatre on giant screen.

And the worst feeling above all was the uncomfortable nagging feeling that such shit happens regularly in the North Indian Hindi-Punjabi heartbelt; that women (if allowed to be born) are considered below par to men and treated worse than animals; and your blood boils at not doing anything to improve this situation.

Great job, good film.

meetu:

@Fan I am glad, you ventured out for this one and stuck it through. It helps to break our barriers every once in a while.

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