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Review: NH10 a fast-paced cinematic ride


Cast: Anushka Sharma, Neil Bhoopalam, Darshan Kumaar, Ravi Jhankal, Deepti Naval

NH10, which marks director Navdeep Singh’s return to action eight years after his superb debut film Manorama Six Feet Under, delivers a cinematic ride that is nearly as good.

NH10 is a fast-paced, edge-of-the-seat thriller that is marked by wonderful editing, superb camerawork and a terrific pivotal performance by the female lead, Anushka Sharma.

This film is, however, not for the faint-hearted. It is a dark and unflinching probe into the rotting underbelly of a society that still dangles precariously between the glitzy trappings of modernity and the inescapable trap of hoary social beliefs.

Singh mixes genres in NH10 – it is a road movie, crime drama, chase thriller and revenge tale rolled into one – and tops it up with a strong undercurrent of socio-political commentary.

Meera (Anushka Sharma) and Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam), an affluent Gurgaon couple, walk into a life-threatening hellhole in the course of a romantic road trip.

Witness to a brutal honour killing just off the highway out of Delhi NCR, they get sucked into a messy battle of attrition with a group of murderous men who will stop at nothing to eliminate anybody who gets in their way.

The director crafts a gripping, no-frills narrative that hurtles from one skirmish to another between the pursued and the pursuers.

NH10 is a rare Bollywood film in which the female protagonist occupies the very centre of the action. Anushka, also the co-producer of the film, plunges headlong into the role of the successful corporate employee who finds herself with her back to the wall.

With nothing to lose, the character that she plays strikes back with as much venom as she is subjected to by her tormentors. It is a convincing portrayal all the way through.

NH10 is indeed a triumph for the lead actress: she runs through a gamut of emotions as she flits from being a capricious coquette in the initial minutes of the film to quickly assuming the persona of a hopelessly cornered woman left with no option but to fight back with all her might.

Neil Bhoopalam, who is cast as the husband, is a fine actor who suffers a bit on account of the fact that his second-fiddle role isn’t endowed with much meat.

The pack of antagonists is led by two actors that are clearly capable of handling more complex roles – Darshan Kumaar and Ravi Jhankal. But here, they are reduced to single-note characters.

The cast of NH10 includes Deepti Naval in a small but significant role that propels the film to its distressing climax.

NH10 is disturbing, thought-provoking and entertaining all at once.

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