At best, Trapped undercuts its much-promised premise, and leaves you asking for more!
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Geetanjali Thapa
Director: Vikramaditya Motwane
We all are so caught up in our lives that often we seem to be unprepared for the unpredictable, or the worst. Vikramaditya Motwane’s third film, Trapped, makes you go through the sudden unanticipated turn that life can take, when you don’t even know what’s in it for you, forget how long it would last, or how to get out of it. This survival thriller stars the immensely gifted actor Rajkummar Rao, who gets locked in an uninhabited Mumbai high-rise apartment accidentally. Shaurya (Rao) does not want to lose his love Noorie (Geetanjali Thapa) whose parents would never approve of a man who doesn’t even have a place to live, and stays with friends in a bachelor’s pad. Not that he has much means to zero in on a fancy apartment for himself, and so he decides to do whatever he can in his attempt to please Noorie. As luck would have it, he gets duped by the agent to shift into an unoccupied building. But he is not complaining, and after hurriedly packing his things and moving into his new home, he gets ready to leave for the railway station to stop Noorie from boarding a train to her hometown. He puts his phone on charging while hastily getting things organised and is about to leave when the entrance door gets slammed with the key left dangling on the other side.
That sure is scary but sounds like perfect grist to a thriller… And then begins what can be essentially his claustrophobic one-man show that ranges from most visceral impulses to the bordering bizarre ones. His apprehension of remaining helpless percolates to the viewers who imagine, and perhaps, even offer their own solutions while seeing his predicament so closely. Motwane tackles this story as a challenge of experiencing a film where for the most part, nothing happens, really. No matter how stark and unlovely and even frightening reality is, when you look at it from that stance, hope as a distant dream brightens the most profound darkness, and so Shaurya gets cracking on anything and everything that would seem plausible. Still no distinct answers or definite results are in view, both for the protagonist and the viewers. Weeping can be endured for a night, but can joy come in the morning? This is a thriller where Motwane is doing his best to succeed in holding your attention, dotting and interfusing the helplessness of Shaurya with umpteen attempts to free him of the defeatist situation that he finds himself in. And he gets extra points for the topicality of his backdrop — Mumbai.
In a city where life’s daily chores entail mad rushing through the day, and one gets easily sucked into the overcrowded dystopian world, positivity is rare even as one clings to an optimistic view of seeing hope hovering around close by. The film has everything going for its director whose two earlier films Udaan and Lootera, can boast of being diametrically different from each other. This one too is distinctively unusual. The film has a situation with not a glimmer of hope from around the multitude of homes that Shaurya is able to see from his balcony. Not even being able to reach out to the security guard down below, Shaurya moves in unexpected directions: trying hard to control his hunger; spotting a cockroach and making attempts to kill it and imagining it to be his meal; his noticing a creepy rat that makes him all the more miserable; his attempts to draw attention from a young lady in the neighbourhood. But despite having such a riveting tale, the writers fail to build up the plot to an absorbing climax. Beyond the obvious one is left hoping for more bizarre elements as days turn into nights and Shaurya’s plight looks bleaker each passing moment.
As dusk makes its way across the demanding city, lights flicker left and right as it does in some of the homes, with precious little variation in Shaurya’s bind. But what I was looking for was either a twist in the tale or more whacky moments that could shock me. Or disgust me to the point of being sickening. For me, that would have been something to engage my sensibilities with, howsoever gruesome it may have been. Also, if what grips you in the opening scenes of primal fear the same loses track by being a mere plot gimmick soon. It is only because of a charismatic and immensely engaging performance from Rao, and the soundtrack of Aloka Dasgupta that the audience would hang on till the end. At best, Trapped undercuts its much-promised premise, and leaves you asking for more!
The writer is a film critic and has been reviewing films for over 15 years. He also writes on music, art and culture, and other human interest stories.