Before we even begin to discuss the film, let’s take a breath and revel in the ingenuity of the avant garde that is Vikramaditya Motwane. If that name sounds a tad unfamiliar to you, let me take the liberty to name some of the projects he has worked in either as a Director or a Writer or both. We first got a glimpse of his mind through the critically acclaimed Udaan which has, since, achieved somewhat of a cult status as a coming of age story of a young boy, dealing with an abusive father and a bastard brother who he didn’t even know existed. Udaan marked the onset of a confident film-maker who knew exactly what kind of emotion each shot would evoke in the viewer. The unabashed brutality of life would be smeared across the screen without the need for the actual physicality of violence. That subtle craft is seen in all of Motwane’s films like Dev D (as writer), Lootera (as writer and director). Even before he became an acclaimed writer and director, Motwane had assisted bigwigs like Sanjay Leela Bhansali in some of his more defining films like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas. He later became associated with a more rebellious crowd consisting of Anurag Kashyap, Vikas Bahl (director of Queen) and Madhu Mantena (producer) co-founding the production house Phantom, through which they now pioneer films that are shaping the new Bollywood.
Trapped is the manifestation of one of those cosmic jokes that you’d toss around among your friends, with a subconscious satisfaction within that this would never happen to you. We have grown so apathetic to our surroundings that we never care to give a second thought to the hundreds of things that could go wrong leaving us in an undesirable situation. Shaurya, played by Rajkumar Rao, is desperately on the look-out for an apartment. After gathering a lot of courage he has finally been able to pour his heart out to his crush – Noori (played by Geetanjali That)- in office only to find out that she is slated to marry someone in a couple of days. Shaurya convinces Noori that they can have a fresh start together, asking her to break off the marriage. To show his committment towards this newfound relationship, he proposes that he would get out of his dingy, shared apartment and find a new one where they could live together. But it is easier said than done. Anyone who has ever been to Mumbai can tell you that it’s well nigh impossible to find a 1 BHK or even a 1 RK in South Bombay in a flimsy budget of 15k. Dejected after being dismissed by several brokers, he comes across a young man who is more than willing to help him out. Even though you have this feeling that something is amiss, things turn out to be normal and Shaurya moves into a newly constructed apartment in an empty high-rise. He is, however, the only tenant in the whole building which is embroiled in a legal dispute, due to which the possessions never kicked off. Unaffected by those trivial technicalities, Shaurya counts himself lucky to have found the flat in the most opportune moment. Little does he know that he was about to find himself in an urban nightmare. The next morning as he is just about to leave to meet Noori and bring her back to the place, he realizes that he has left his mobile phone inside the apartment. In a hurry, he leaves the keys hanging in the lock outside and runs in to grab his phone. At this fateful moment, a gust of wind pushes the door shut and locked for good. Shaurya rushes back to the door only to find himself trapped in an apartment on one of the topmost floors in an empty building !
This simplest of premises is masterfully established by Motwane by keeping the unoccupied building as the backdrop. This angle takes out all the essential elements like water and electricity out of the equation, leaving the hapless prisoner with an uncharged phone, almost no food and no water. The apartment is so high-up that screaming would be like preaching to a jet-engine. The very atmosphere transforms us from mere spectators into Shaurya’s flatmates, wracking our brains trying to find out ways to break open that sturdy door or sending a message to the millions of people living around the building. Too near but as far away as the sun. Rajkumar Rao is a revelation in this film, bringing out his abundant authenticity as a timid young man who becomes increasingly unhinged owing to this impossible incident that had changed his life. You’d be hard-pressed to watch such ferocity and unfettered acting in the industry today. If this does not bring him on par with the A-listers in Bollywood, I don’t know what will. After working on some of the more challenging projects like City Lights, Shahid and Aligarh, the man deserves his due.
Rajkumar Rao is a revelation in this film, bringing out his abundant authenticity as a timid young man who becomes increasingly unhinged owing to this impossible incident that had changed his life.
Trapped makes you squirm in discomfort and swear in frustration as the lone protagonist struggles and fails in all his attempts to find his way back to civilization. You suddenly realise that nothing, absolutely nothing, is more important than the underrated freedom to eat and drink whenever you want, travel in the crowded buses, talk to another person…all the trivial, most insignificant of things that we take for granted. Motwane drives home this emotion through some intelligently crafted scenes where we watch Shaurya hallucinating in his starvation. He watches the apartment suddenly transform into a lush green jungle where the host of a Man vs Wild like TV programme, shows him how to survive in such situations by eating a cockroach. Attentive viewers would have noted that when Shaurya leaves his old apartment, this is the same show that his room-mates were watching. Such meaningfully placed CGI elevates the story up another notch by helping us get inside the mind of the character. Unlike Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours and Robert Zemeckis’ Castaway, you do not need to be in unusual circumstances or far away from humanity, to fall prey to a life-threatening situation. You can be smack in the middle of a bustling city on a concrete island without anything to keep you alive !
A story is always as good as the story-teller and Motwane is a master craftsman. His knack of grabbing the pulse of the simplest of premises and running with it, makes him one of the most imaginative and inventive film-makers we have today. Trapped is so simple that it makes you wonder – why didn’t anyone think of this before ? Then it hits you that they are so busy in building larger than life characters that their bloated imagination never sets foot on the ground. Motwane is undeniably becoming a force majeur in the Indian Film Landscape with the kind of projects he is bringing to the table. We are going to wait with a wide-eyed fascination for his next film Bhavesh Joshi which is scheduled for release next year.
A bow to the man who has us trapped in his imagination !
gobblpoint: This is an exhilarating film which would baffle you, shock you, move you to the edge of your seats and finally give you a satisfaction which you’d rarely find in any of the movies today. An absolute nerve-wracking and gut-wrenching thrill-ride !
Disclaimer: The images used in this post are the sole property of the makers of this film and are not owned by us in any form whatsoever.