Phantom Films seem to be making a habit of this….a rather good one, I must say. Each year, this production house puts out a film that breaks new ground, introduces new and engaging concepts. In 2014, their second year in the business, Phantom produced two such films: Queen and Ugly. In 2015, they came out with NH10, Hunterr (which showed that a sex comedy need not necessarily be cheap, crass and vulgar) and Masaan. In 2016, it was the drug drama Udta Punjab. Trapped is another such film.
The concept is simple. Shaurya is in love with his colleague Noorie, who is about to get married unless they get a place together. He manages to get one after some hassles. The catch: the flat is on one of the top floors of an unoccupied high-rise in Prabhadevi. Whilst on his way to meet Noorie, Shaurya gets locked inside the apartment, the key hanging outside the door. Stuck inside with hardly any food or water and no electricity, Shaurya is forced to improvise. He does a hell of a lot of stuff. He does every imaginable thing except one: give up. In his own words, “Kuch bhi ho jaaye, idhar nahi marna hai.”
The screenplay, penned by Amit Joshi and Hardik Mehta, is the pillar on which this film should stand but ends up needing a stronger push from the actor to straighten up, after which it works just fine. Where it fails is the length. Perhaps a trimming by fifteen-twenty minutes would’ve been good. Where it works is many places. It restricts the romance of Shaurya and Noorie to ten-odd minutes. It’s engaging once the protagonist is trapped. It gives the audience an insider’s view of Shaurya’s frustration, anger, fear and determination. The screenplay taps more into the psychological aspect of things than the physical aspect. The concept is such that you’ll go in thinking you’ve figured out all the plotholes but you haven’t quite, at least not all of them. The music by Alokananda Dasgupta is eerie and haunting, working its way seamlessly into the film. Nitin Baid’s editing is sharp and crisp, though he should have ideally snipped off a bit more of the film. DoP Siddharth Diwan has a tough task and manages it admirably. To restrict your camera angles due to such a small set had to be a daunting task but Diwan carries it out expertly. While the cinematography didn’t make me claustrophobic, it did make me shifty and uncomfortable. The lighting team too have done a fine job of creating a sense of dread in the atmosphere.
Geetanjali Thapa’s cameo is an adequate performance by a talented actress. The film’s biggest pillar is one of the most talented actor among his peers. The man capable of turning out an incredible performance each and every time he appears on screen. Whether it was alongside Aamir Khan, Amit Sadh and Sushant Singh Rajput, or with Manoj Bajpayee, Rajkummar Rao has always been one heck of an actor. He is Shaurya in this movie. Every frame of his performance is brilliant. He is naive, head over heels in love, scared, and determined. The lack of dialogue doesn’t prevent him from going all out in his performance. He portrays Shaurya with such depth and understanding that you can’t help but hope the guy gets out of that wretched apartment.
Vikramaditya Motwane delivers a film that is daring and unique. The fact that the crew and the cast have operated so smoothly has to be credited to the man behind the monitor. Motwane keeps the film clean, devoid of taam-jhaam. He is in total control of a film where so many things could go wrong but somehow don’t.
There have been films with no songs or no stars. But it is highly unlikely that a film will be what Trapped is. It relies not on an item song, not on cleavages and six-packs, not on locations and not on fandom. It relies on its story, its performer and its crew. Never does it pretend to be more than what it is: a well-made film (Dilwale and Varun Dhawan, I’m looking at you. Dilwale=Inception….really?!). Watch Trapped to get a sense of how Hindi cinema is changing and for Rajkummar’s terrific performance.