Sunday, 15 March 2015

Girl Gun Goons My Review NH10

Director Navdeep Singh

Starring  Anushka Sharma, Neil Bhoopalam, Ravi Jhankal, Deepti Naval, Darshan Kumar

Quite early on in the film you see Meera (Anushka) rubbing off the word "Randi" from the door of a toilet in a highway dhaba. This is one of the gentler words women find written inside loos, and not just the ones on hinterland highways.

Directed by Navdeep Singh, whose last film Manorama Six Feet Under is a favorite of mine, NH10 promised a gritty, bloody and hard hitting drive through the gut of Haryana. The land of honour killings and khap panchayats.

Arjun and Meera are a young, rich, urban couple, staying in Gurgaon, a city which boasts of gargantuan Malls and elite housing. It also falls in Haryana, the Jaat land. And even today, a drive alone can be a horror for a woman, which is established as the film opens.

From a happy weekend get-away, the lives of Arjun and Meera turn to hell as they witness a brutal honor killing of a young couple, trying to run away from the blood thirsty relatives. They are now the targets of the men who will not leave anything or anyone coming in their paths alive, whole.

As the film turns into a shocking, brutal thriller, you see Meera do unexpected things, for her and her husband's survival, alone in a nightmarish world which she never knew existed.

Purely as a thriller, the film keeps you engaged in most parts, a woman pitted against a band of killers.

But the film pitched itself as a social statement, with the villains not just merciless killers and psychos, these men kill for their version of honor, they treat women worse than a rabid dog, they find the thought of a boy from another Gotra marrying their sister/daughter so revolting, they will violently snuff life out of them.

So when you put the heroine in this world, does it just remain a story of Her revenge, Her journey, Her Victory over these bad men? Yes it is thrilling to see a woman turn into a killing machine, but was it the only purpose of the film, to give the audience an adrenaline rush?  Then why use a grave issue without making a decisive statement about it? I would have been as entertained if Meera was left in jungle with lions, alone at night.

The pitching of Urban vs Rural is almost childish in its projection, it made me cringe. "Ye gaaon wale hain" as Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam)  says, bunching all of them together as imbeciles, you almost say aloud, no but... all of them are not like that.

I, as an Urban female viewer, fighting for gender equality and fiercely guarding my independence, should have broken into applause as the film ends, but didn't, because somewhere, Meera did not totally convince me, neither did the script.

The film does have its moments, the husband who smarts from the insult of being slapped in front of his wife, trying to be a man, deciding to show his wife he is not a mouse. The easy banter of the couple in love in the beginning of the film, the little village boy coveting Meera's designer watch...

Anushka shows her acting chops and does a good job of holding it all together. Bhoopalam looks dishy but is weak. Darshan Kumar (of Mary Kom fame) gives a patchy performance. Deepti Naval tries hard, but looks out of place. Ravi Jhankal is a solid performer and leaves an impact as a matter of fact, often chillingly funny killer. The Haryanvi spoken in the film is inconsistent and sounds fake in most places

A film which could have been much more... at least I went in expecting it to be.

My Verdict  2.5/5