NH 10 – A Terrifying Revengeful Ride

The trailer does tell you the story, but does not prepare you enough for what you witness in the next two hours.

A strong, independent, level- headed urban Indian woman lands in the middle of a deserted village fighting a bunch of a rural hooligans. It is not another Mary Kom or Mardaani where you want to get up and give a short-lived applaud to women empowerment, its much more brutal, much more intense, and scary for real.

It starts with a rather questionable beginning. One completely fails to understand how a young couple who lives in Gurgaon would dare to mess with a group of evil dwellers from a village in Haryana for no sensible reason. The absence of google maps which makes getting lost the easy thing to do. There is also some forced ‘Jat sarcasm’ completely out of sync and a bit shoehorned. If you excuse some absence of logic, the trail of events thereafter is gripping, nightmarish and uncompromising. The cat and mouse chase between the urban couple Meera (Anushka Sharma), Arjun (Neel Bhopalam) and the bad-ass gang manages to keep you at the edge of your seat. The bleak and grimy tone is maintained throughout as the plot stretches over just one night. There is no concession to the barbarous violence, irrespective of the gender of the victim, or the culprit. Your heart aches at the beginning, but you grow stronger, as does Meera, towards the end, and right there lies the brilliance of its pace and storytelling. The last 15 mins of the movie take you to a level which has been a little far-fetched for female-role driven Indian cinema. The closest we got to this, from what I remember was Rekha in ‘Khoon Bhari Maang’. But again, this time around its much more plausible.

Neel Bhoopalam is fresh, charming and appropriately weak. Darshan Kumar is fierce, but unfortunately the only misfit among the gang, struggling with his Haryanvi ascent. Deepti Naval is fittingly sinister, although a little more of her would not have hurt at all. All said and done, the hero of-course is Anushka Sharma. Her brilliant acts digs its claws into your heart with the sheer authenticity of her accumulated angst. 
The music, background score and cinematography are spot on and perfectly compliment the narrative. If you can stomach the brutality of it, NH10 does call for one rough ride.

Qissa – The beautiful unfolding of a scary tale

How many times have you looked at the mirror and wondered if what you see is what you are?

Qissa – The Tale Of a Lonely Ghost, leaves you with many such perplexing thoughts that haunt you for longer than you’d think.

It’s a story based on a partition-displaced family that struggles to rebuild its lost home amidst terrible times. Umber Singh, a father of three daughters, looks at having a son as the only option to bring comfort to his crippled household. This leads to the fourth daughter being raised as a son. Tillotama Shome as Kanwar the ‘son’ does an extraordinary job, and leaves you mind-numbed at quite a few instances. Tisca Chopra as ‘Meher’, the ever enduring wife and mother is timeless and beyond comparison in her act, there is an emotion in every breath she takes which make words seem needless. Also, you look at Rasika Dugal and wish to see her more often, as she lights up the screen with her marvel.

The surrealism of this cinema is unwillingly pragmatic. Director Anup Singh has pointed at many such social atrocities within a single fable, which leaves us with this masterpiece. Every frame connects to the other with such beauty that it isn’t narration of a story, but a musical painting. What weaves all of it together beautifully is the enchanting cinematography and the rich background score.

Qissa would mean different things to different people. It deals with partition not just of a being from its homeland but a body from its soul, a mind from its senses and much more. The cast are the perfect words for this beautiful lyrical.

Qissa is atrociously imaginative at the surface yet very real in its true depth. Watch it because very rarely do you find cinema this captivating!