With films like UDAAN (included in BTC’s Movies To See Before You Die List) and LOOTERA (a slow, off-beat romantic drama) to his credit, Vikramaditya Motwane is certainly a director who wishes to break through the traditional barriers of Hindi cinema opening new avenues for all, and his third film TRAPPED yet again turns out to be a rare experimental attempt led by a solid performance.
A unique attempt in Hindi cinema reminding you of survival series films such as BURIED (2010), 127 HOURS (2010), ALL IS LOST (2013), the classic CAST AWAY (2000) and more, TRAPPED as per its title revolves around a young man locked inside the apartment of an unfinished, deserted high rise building (in one of its higher floors) without any stock of basic necessities or means of communication for days (or weeks unclearly). Actually the promotional trailer of TRAPPED gives you everything about its basic content or plot and the only thing left to be seen remains the execution, performance and the way its director keeps you engrossed in a 102 minutes of duration (almost) without any supporting cast.
Thankfully, apart from its unconvincing dicey start and a few cinematic liberties taken in an otherwise realistic film, TRAPPED partially delivers the expected excellence through the visible efforts of an exceptional team of a daring director, cinematographer, background score composer and a lead performer largely overcoming the monotonous feel.
Not an easy watch for all, it has some gruesome, uncomfortable scenes focusing on the main protagonist struggling for existence going after pigeons, rats, cockroaches, insects and drinking his own urine too. Particular the ones having fear of rodents are sure to have some difficult time watching a few scenes focusing on them in particular. Expressing a lot about the uncaring nature of the city and its citizens through some interesting metaphors, the narration drags you in once you readily assume that this can possibly happen right in the middle of the ‘never sleeping’ city on an unfortunate bad day.
Appropriately shot in (mostly) natural light with a mix of extreme close-ups and realistic visuals, the director makes you part of the struggle and then you do feel the joy in every small victory of the survivor in the final hour of the film to be exact. Well supported by Geetanjali Thapa in the first 15 minutes playing the love interest, TRAPPED remains entirely focused on Rajkummar Rao in the rest and the actor once again proves that he is undoubtedly one of the finest talent of our cinema, who does deserve an equal respect and attention as given to Nawazzudin Siddiqui or Irrfan Khan by the media to be fair. Very aptly named as Shaurya (meaning bravery), Rao performs with perfection, though he does seem to be repetitive in the initial office sequences reminding you of his earlier films. Having said that you still cannot assume anyone else doing the role while moving out of the theatre giving the due credit.
Coming to its hurried, unrealistic beginning and the cinematic liberties taken, any survival drama’ key requisite is to convince the viewer about how its main protagonist gets caught in such unexpected, unpleasant situation with no possible contact with the outer world. In TRAPPED though the door getting locked by itself with the key in it and the later proceedings largely appear to be believable, it’s the initial build-up and the premise which sadly remains too fast, unconvincing and flawed.
Explaining the downers in details, first of all post a few weeks affair and physical intimacy, the entire urgency of getting married to an office colleague in a day, who is already engaged and going to be married in a few weeks appears to be too fast and unrealistic, and that too when the girl is not entirely convinced or ready.
Secondly, what kind of a well-educated, decently employed young man simply trusts a stranger broker (met in a corridor) who hasn’t even got an office of his own and who is not even the owner of the house or interested in arranging your meet with the actual owner in the first place? What kind of an educated person goes in a deal like this without any legal papers, clarifications or confirmations?
Thirdly, who takes up an apartment on rent in such a lonely high rise building, which is still under construction, left deserted for last two years for unknown reasons, with no one else living in any of its 30+ floors since last two years like a haunted place? What kind of sane mind opts for an apartment like this and that too for beginning your post marriage life bringing in the newly wed wife? (Frankly it more fits as a premise of a Ramsay film instead.)
Moreover, if you are selecting an apartment for shifting post your immediate marriage, then the apartment needs to be first approved by the lady, who has to live there as a wife converting it into a home in the coming days. But here Rao doesn’t even find it necessary to show or even inform the girl about the new apartment selected so strangely.
Besides if an under construction building is lying unused from last two years due to some legal trouble, then how can it get an official electricity and water supply like a normal society? Who will be paying for that…. the builder?
Next, as a major technical setback, the film doesn’t give you any timeline of its happening keeping you guessing. We are given no information about how many days Rao spends in that locked apartment and how many days he survives without food, before deciding to eat the pigeons, insects and more as the desperate last resort? So missing such important details in the script, one doesn’t get convinced about the saturation point coming so early in the narration, making it appear like too superficial on the surface lacking the required depth.
Also there are not any great nail-biting or scary moments in the script with the final escape missing the much awaited solid punch weakening the overall impact. Plus being right within the town surrounded by an active population, its more logical for a person to find the escape route first somehow climbing down the floors, before starting eating birds, rodents and insects as if he is living on a lost island with a never ending sea all around and sure death beyond the room if one decides to cross it swimming.
In other words, finding the way to climb down would have been the first choice of a logical person in reality before thinking it’s all over and no hope left for life going for the pigeons and rats. Keeping myself in his place, honestly I would have gone for the climbing down option first before opting out for such desperate ‘zombie step’ without any doubt. Interestingly Rao also finally takes the same decision only in the film too but after doing all those activities since it was supposed to be a tense survival drama as conceived by the talented director.
Here would also like to add that as shown in the film, the narrow shaft looked like a more safe escape route climbing down the floors in comparison to the open balconies, falling from where, a person was sure to get more severe injuries or an immediate death.
Further I was really not amused watching Rao’s jeans slipping down while walking out of the building in the end, as if he has spent not days but months in the locked apartment eating almost nothing for survival losing so much weight.
Putting it differently TRAPPED works, if only you simply assume that it’s all quite possible and can happen to anyone (ignoring the logical facts). However if you start thinking about the reasoning then it does seem to be just a fairly engaging, decent off-beat attempt with a sincere solo performance and some notable merits. For instance the master class of a director is truly visible in the way we are shown how Rao is a strict vegetarian due to his followed religion and not by choice, how he is not comfortable in holding the girl’s hand first feeling shy and the way he quietly chooses to walk out of the building without saying a single word to the half deaf watchman looking at him in amazement. In my opinion this particular shot was the best shot of the film showcasing the director’s vision.
Regarding the film’s no-interval release.
It was widely quoted in the media that this is officially a no-interval release in the multiplexes with a motive to have a much stronger impact on the viewer. But to give you the truth, just saying or declaring doesn’t work here, as you also need to educate the exhibitors/theater owners/operators too as they did stop the movie (abruptly) at around 50 minutes in the multiplex I was watching in and probably the same is the case in many others too (like the routine practice they follow while screening all English films). So it wasn’t any no-interval film for me and perhaps many more giving you the actual ground report.
despite having a flawed basic premise and a partially convincing narration, TRAPPED still remains worth visiting for all supporters and lovers of experimental cinema featuring a splendid solo act. So do watch it in a theater giving it the much deserving chance, as possibly you might love the movie much more than I did.
Rating : 3 / 5 (Including a big one just for the praiseworthy solo act of Rajkummar Rao)
For friends willing to read an after-thought with an alternate premise for the script that might sound more logical (but not for the faint-hearted).
Just a few days back, I watched a masterpiece attempt as OZHIVUDIVASATHE KALI (meaning: An Off-Day Game/2015/Malayalam) wherein a few friends go for a drinks outing in a deserted guest house situated right in the middle of a jungle with no village or building around in the radius of a few kilometers. They reach there all alone and just have a lady cook to take care of the food and nobody else even knowing about their visit planned as a secret tour.
Now for a different version of TRAPPED, let’s assume that these four friends are there in a similar deserted guest house which is looked after by a lady whose husband has gone to their village and will only be returning after next 20 days or so. The four friends who are there for playing cards and booze on a public holiday, get heavily drunk and in that state go after the lady-cook serving them unaware, waiting for her promised tip.
In their attempt to rape the cook, incidentally the lady gets killed in the room itself and they all are in a big trouble. In that state of panic the four decide to leave in their individual vehicles and also promise not to reveal anything to anybody about this secret visit and not to meet or call the other for the next 15 days too as a safety measure.
While running towards their own cars or bikes, one of the friends finds that he has left the bike’s key in the room. He gets back to find the key and meanwhile all the other three move in different directions in their cars or bikes. The fourth friend is searching for the key when his mobile battery also gets over. As he reaches the same room where the corpse is lying, he finds the key there on the table. But in a hurry to pick up the key without looking towards the corpse, he accidentally shuts down the only door of the room, with the key hanging in its hole getting locked inside.
Now he is standing locked in that awful room with the left-over cooked meat lying on the table along with plates, spoons and a knife, the lady’s corpse on the bed and the door closed with no charger with him of the phone already gone dead. Plus neither the cook’s husband is supposed to return before the next 20 days nor the three friends are expected to contact each other for the next 15 days as decided.
So how the person is supposed to spend this given time period in the locked room with the lady’s corpse all alone?
What he will eat and what he will drink post a day or so………..?
Will he pick up the knife and move towards the stinking corpse to have its flesh and blood?
Will he decide to kill himself with the same knife itself and finish the story forever………..?
Surely this could have been a much more intense, brutal and shocking, bloody TRAPPED than the present one.
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