Okay right, here’s an audacious, gut-wrenching bid to draw you up, scary and personal –to a guy who, unwittingly, gets himself locked up in a matchbox-sized apartment on the 35th storey in one of those desolate sky-rises. And Mumbai, as you already know, means the survival of the grittiest.
After the intimately-scaled Udaan and the somewhat-askew Lootera, director Vikramaditya Motwane deserves wah-wahs galore for daring to tread on a subject which is as far away from the formula as ground reality is from Bollywood’s tinsel-coated moon. For 102-minutes (gratifyingly without a mood-interrupting interval), Trapped tightens the screws on you. If you feel uncomfortable, gagged and horrified intermittently, don’t squack, here’s a deceptively have-a-good-day in paradise.
Cinema doesn’t have to be only about gals-meets-boys. Since its very inception, it can also venture out into areas of darkness, and dare one say this, invite the viewer to think. Doubtlessly, the film is experimental, excellently shot with the use of natural light by cinematographer Siddharth Diwan, and makes for compelling viewing (those who insist on leaving their bheja behind at home, stay tucked in bed please).
That uttered, a point has to made to be though. The story of a lone guy battling the urban odds isn’t entirely a novel one. It has been delineated unforgettably before and I’m citing just two instances. One, Gerald Thomas’ Time Lock (1957) in which a boy gets locked up accidentally in a bank vault where the oxygen supply is clocked to run out in 10 hours. Incidentally, this American nail-biter was a huge hit the world over. And two, there was the Iranian film, a festival favourite, The Key (1957), directed by Ebrahim Forouzesh, in which a four-year-old boy with his baby brother, goes through hell in an apartment, while their mother is away shopping.
Which is to say that the concept of Motwane’s Trapped isn’t exactly novel, but for sure it’s powerfully relocated in the Maximum city with a minimal amount of fuss over set designs, distracting sub-plots and jarring flashbacks.
All you get to know is that Shaurya (Rajkummar Rao) is the quintessential middle class victim of a metropolis where redevelopment and haphazard urban planning seem to be here to stay.
Life, you learn, has to move on for Shaurya beyond being a flatmate. He longs to settle down with his office colleague Noorie (Gitanjali Thapa in an effective cameo) in a newly-acquired one BHK in an architectural montrosity ironically called ‘Swarg’. And then, by one of those believable twist of circumstances, there’s no escape.
Essentially presented as a solo act, this Bollywood rule-breaker details a young man’s ingenuity as well as sheer helplessness, not to forget the fact that he, like all of us, take basic needs for granted, be it water or food. How Shaurya resorts to desperate measures (it would be unfair to reveal them), seeks help and grapples with his phobias, add up to a script which carroms between the harrowing and the ingenuous. Throughout, the direction is tense, uncompromised and consistently entices you to identify with the plight of Shaurya. You care and how, as the dramaturgy moves breathlessly towards the finale.
Clearly, Rajkummar Rao is the trump card of Trapped which leaves you (nicely) zapped. He slips into the character’s skin effortlessly and delivers a bravura performance which is physically rigorous as well as psychologically accurate.
The film, which justly received a standing ovation on being premiered at the MAMI festival, is a must-experience for discerning audiences. For those addicted purely to the light and frothy, it’s still recommended if they’re willing to agree that like reality, cinema bites.