• Nandini Goel


Director: Navdeep Singh

Cast: Anushka Sharma, Neil Bhoopalam, Darshan Kumar, Deepti Naal, Kanchan Sharma, Ravi Jhankal, Sushil Tyagi, Ravi Beniwal

Writer: Sudip Sharma

Budget: 80 Lacs

Box Office Collection: 32 Crore

“NH10 is a paradigm for the contribution of awareness about realistic root-causes and then working on the development of country like India.”

Commercial cinema is a sprouting business but NH10 wasn’t a wrong choice to pitch for box office returns and simultaneously work on daunting realities. NH10 is the second direction by Navdeep Singh which offers a tight, tense, and horrifying pictorial.

The story is about a married couple Meera and Arjun who decides to go for a holiday after Meera is disturbed from an eve-teasing incident. The duo takes a road-trip via NH10 and decides to take a refreshment break at a Dhaba where they witness a young couple being attacked. Arjun decides to take a stand but is slapped. In the course, his ego is hurt which makes him go after the men to witness an honor killing. The men attack the duo and a full night falls in the hide-n-seek of brutality.

More than being a movie, NH10 is a concept that highlights the social and economic disparities that leads to the conventional thoughts of honor killing and patriarchy. Though the movie avoided scenes depicting sexual assaults, the essence of the message was striking the minds of audience. In addition, there were no big names attached for the males’ characterization which helped the audience to connect more with the realism.

The film definitely cleared an understanding that: “The concept of misogyny exists in every sphere - rural or urban; developed or under developed. Only the treatment has changed.In rural or under developed areas, women are suppressed because they're 'weak'. In urban or developed areas, women are given privileged rights because they're 'weak'.”

The movie intriguingly depicts the cultural disparity amongst the two parts of Haryana that’s bifurcated through a Highway – NH10. “Ye Gurgaon ka jahan mall khatam hota hai na, wahi apki democracy or constitution bhi” – the dialogue represents the intent clearly.

The film has a bunch of metaphors to support its effective storytelling. While travelling, Meera’s husband asks her about the gun, she says I don’t need it because you are with me and that shows the dependence and trust of a woman on her husband while in a much later scene, she takes the watch from her injured husband’s hand to depict that time has taken a toll and she would have to stand up for the couple. This allows me to connect it with a famous mythology story of Satyavan and Savitiri. The director even dramatized it by offering the scenes of the mythological play when Meera was on the run to garner some help. The connection between the play and the run of Meera would have been more evident and impactful if the director would have used some dialogues / scenes of Savitri protecting her husband from Yamraj rather than a clown’s / dance act.

Another aspect to add into this storytelling was when Meera was seen erasing the abuse ‘Randi’ (while she smoked in a dhabha) in the initials of film. The abuse wasn’t for her but it felt like she was being attacked and her reflexes instigated her to defend her integrity. While in the later scene, when she saw the abuse ‘Randi’ on wall (when her husband was brutually murdered), her reflexes again asked her to take the appropriate actions for the men who offered this slang to her. The two scenes are different but are connected to each other as the trigger point remains the same 'Randi' and each of them reflects how desperately a woman tries to overpower her weakness. This shows that in any circumstance, the lead character tries to eradicate the concept of women suppression through her anger which broke out in two different ways in two different scenarios.

Another metaphor or a coincidence attached to the film’s production. NH10 was filmed over the course of 44 days. On one occasion, around 2,000 people had gathered at a filming location on the outskirts of Gurgaon; Singh said the crowd had gathered out of curiosity but turned hostile after they were told to stay away from the set. Some people in the crowd started performing bicycle stunts and firing bullets. The shoot was eventually cancelled. Anushka said this incident "instilled some fear and anxiety" into her, which she channeled into the film.

Technically observing, the lighting in the night sequences could have been more realistic as there were scenes where the lighting was more without any evident source.

As the Indian Cinema evolved, the viewership and film production gradually shifted to a particular genre of movies which were comedy, family-drama, action-drama, and commercial films that often lacked the storyline but succeeded through the big names attached. The realism in the Indian Cinema had left behind in the past years. Even if some filmmakers took an effort to bring it back; the production and box office collection made them step back.

But, eventually, the time and concept of Indian Cinema are changing and people are moving towards good cinema and Indian Cinema really needs examples like NH10 to offer to Indian audience.

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