It's rather unusual to see a much in demand director like Vikramaditya Motwane go for such low key movie like Trapped, when his last movie starred Ranveer Singh and Sonakshi Sinha. Motwane, who rose to fame with the terrific Udaan, has shot Trapped in such shrouded secrecy that even the most avid Bollywood fans were shocked to know its existence when the movie was screened at a recent film festival to much applause. Trapped stars Rajkummar Rao in the lead role and is a unique thriller. Here's our review...
What's it about
A young man in the city of Mumbai, played by Rajkummar Rao, stays with a couple of stoned guys as roommates. Due to certain urgent pressing matters, he begins to look for a flat on rent on an immediate basis, but with his limited financial resources, it proves to be a difficult hunt. But help comes from a shady agent who arranges a flat for him in a high rise building (funnily named Swarg Apartments) where no one stays, equipped with a tone deaf watchman. In a freaky twist, he gets trapped in his own flat thanks to a jammed door. There is no way he could contact with the outside world and neither his girlfriend nor his roommates know of his whereabouts. How he manages to get out of his hellish existence which should have been his new home is what the rest of the movie is all about. (ALSO READ: Rajkummar Rao does not want to be trapped in this Bollywood stereotype – watch video)
What's with filmmakers and their new found love of scaring us of our own surroundings? Last year, it was Radhika Apte dealing with her agoraphobia in the aptly titled Phobia. This year, Vikramaditya Motwane and Rajkummar Rao make us feel wary of our homes. Well, I am never going to leave my keys in the keyhole again after watching Trapped. The entire premise of Trapped is such a paradox. I mean, the protagonist is trapped in his home that is situated in Prabhadevi, in the centre of Mumbai, a city that never sleeps. It's a cruel fate for our guy that while the entire city bustles around him, no one bothers to hear his screams. So more than a thriller, I felt Trapped is a social commentary on how our city loves paradoxes. While there are millions of people homeless and slumdwellers in our city, there are so many flats lying vacant in buildings whose owners are not even bothered to know that they might be given on rent illegally. Returning to the movie, we are in for an uncomfortable ride the moment the door closes on our hapless hero. Captured in his own house with no one to hear his screams and no food and water to strive on, his desperate measures for survival and escape are not something you can watch on a full stomach. I am not spoiling the scenes for you, but without going all the way, Motwane still finds ways to make you squirm in your seats. That he has a fine actor in Rajkummar Rao to shoulder the movie is the movie's biggest strength. The National award winning actor is in fine form as the man trapped in his own house, who can't even break open his own door (Sadly no Daya to help him out here). Check out his frustration when help comes so close to him in the form of an intrigued neighbour who gets one of his SOS notes, only for her to leave the place. Or his jubilation when he suffers from utmost thirst only for the rains to show mercy on him. The actor is just bloody brilliant in whatever scene he is in. We almost cheer for him when he gets to his final stab at escaping his jail, a scene that is thrillingly shot. As his girlfriend, Geetanjali Thapa has limited scope though she is fantastic in the scene where she passionately argues with him on the benefits of meat-eating. The background score is superb while the single camera setup adds to the sense of claustrophobia.
While Trapped is a unique thriller that has been seldom made in a blockbuster loving Bollywood, not everything is perfect about the movie. Though the hero's ordeal is believable, the entire setup that leads to his entrapment sounds a little incredulous and implausible. Sure the agent tells him that the building is under some legal dispute, so no one's staying here. But it is highly doubtful that Rao's character takes up a house without checking there if it even has a proper water supply, no matter how desperate he is for a flat. Just think - no neighbours, electricity that once fails never returns, no water and the world's worst watchman on duty - there are too many factors just to set up the plot. On top of it, our hero never even bothers to tell anyone where he has taken a flat. The watchman (Seriously, who hired this man?), who doesn't know how to read or for the matter aware that there is a inhabitant in his building, doesn't even bother to check what a flat LCD TV is doing smashed on the pavement. You can say it can happen in real life too, but sorry, too many bad luck factors do spoil the broth here. There is a scene near the conclusion that is forcibly tragic. The movie reminds you of Tom Hanks' Cast Away, except that this is set in an apartment and the basketball is replaced by a hungry rat.
What to do
Trapped is a unique and engaging thriller, bolstered by a fine performance by Rajkummar Rao. It might not appeal to frontbenchers with a taste of commercial cinema, but for those who want something different from Bollywood, Trapped is recommended watch for you, albeit a bold and uneasy one.
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3.5 out of 5