REVIEW: So, NH10 is a film you both hate and love. Meera (Anushka) and Arjun (Neil) are a happy yuppie couple living in a Gurgaon of multinationals, malls and molesters. The duo gets a gun after Meera narrowly escapes an attack one night. Deciding to take a road-trip, they head down NH10 – and see an eloping couple caught and savagely beaten at a roadside dhaba by a gang.
When Arjun intervenes, rustic Satbir (Darshan) slaps him, snarling the girl’s his sister. Despite Meera’s pleading, Arjun grabs their gun and follows the gang, only to witness the couple’s brutal ‘honour’ killing. What happens when Meera and he are discovered by the gang?And when, by mistake, the yuppies kill a village lad?
It’s easy to hate NH10 while watching it because it’s one of the most terrifying Hindi films ever – while simultaneously, you love its brilliance. The film’s story, apparently inspired by Eden Lake, is truly taut, no moment letting you relax, no layer – like Meera’s vulnerability against both Arjun’s ego and the vicious gang – comforting. Every performance delivers a punch, Anushka excelling as Meera on whose glossy life dark horror descends, her acting as remarkable as her commitment to produce this film which has no band, baaja, baraat – only brutality.
There are constant twists (cops backing caste laws over India’s law) and spots which you imagine offer some rest, like Meera meeting a lady sarpanch Ammaji (Deepti Naval), packing away a girl’s clothes, only bring new shocks. Sound itself – heart throbbing, water dripping, the wail of a song dying on an eerie wind somewhere – becomes a fearsome character here. The stark cinematography delves parched ravines and pale mustard fields, one shot – a highway sheeted in blue moonlight, covered with stars, dotted by thorns -magical beauty.
Its cutting-edge finesse ensures NH10 puts your nerves through a shredder. Small plot quibbles aside -would a young yuppie really endanger himself and his wife to chase a gang of murderous hoods he met five minutes ago? – NH10 is not a movie for the faint-hearted or those wanting a fun filmi frolic. This is a dark tale from beyond ‘the aakhri mall, where democracy ends’, where jeeps become beasts and where there are no dividers between hunters, hunted and haunted.
NH10 is a relentless thriller you wish you could see with your eyes closed – because truly, as its song goes, chill gaye naina.