Apurva(now streaming on Disney+Hotstar)
Written & Directed Nikhil Nagesh Bhat
Nikhil Bhat who is currently being lauded globally for his no-holds-barred killer thriller Kill, seems to be fascinated by sociopathic violence. He pulls a racy punch in Apurva. A cleverly designed slasher thriller underscored…or shall I say thunderscored… by a message on the need for women to protect themselves from sexual violence without depending on police or partner, Apurva had me gripped to the bloodied end.
The fascinating Chambalesque outdoor location(shot with menacing verve by Anshuman Mahaley) serves as a gritty landscape for lawlessness. Thi is a no man’s land where outlawry is a way of life. Four bandits Jugnu(Rajpal Yadav), Sukha(Abhishek Banerjee). Balli(Simit Gulati) and Chotu(Aaditya Gupta)—the last-named so called for a certain sliced part of his anatomy—intercept a bus, abduct a girl who turns out to be our hero Apurva.
The uni-sex name is a clever touch, considering the stunts that Apurva performs to escape from the goons are predominantly allotted to male heroes in films.
Yadav, Banerjee and Gulati are chilling in their immorality. They kill, rape , and plunder without any fear of the law which is whittled down to one tired bored cop(Madhvendra Jha). Writer-director Nikhil Bhat sets up the plot with an astute eye for physical detail. The bleak ominous outdoors(shot in Kuldhara near Jaisalmer) exude a vile violence and brutality.
An abandoned wagon and an old fathomless well play pivotal parts in the cat-and-mouse game that the four goons play with their escapee. The writing, though free of big surprises, never lets go of our attention.
As the young woman who finds herself in a situation that one wouldn’t wish on one’s worst enemy, Tara Sutaria pulls out all stops to deliver a performance which is as exhausting physically as it is emotionally. It takes a while for Apurva to realize what she is up against.
Interestingly once she gets a hang of the homicidal adversity she finishes all four psychopaths one after another. The anxious boyfriend Siddharth(Dhairya Karwa) arrives only after Apurva is done dealing with goons.
At 90 minutes of playing time Apurva remains an edge-of-the-seat experience. At times the violence gets hard to bear. But then it is not a pretty world out there.And really, how far can the pepper-spray attitude take a potential kidnap victim?