Navdeep Singh’s NH10 is a terrifying account of a couple under attack, says Aniruddha Guha in his Dedh Minute Review.
There’s a scene in NH10 where Anushka Sharma sits close to one of her assailants and lights up a cigarette. It’s a marvellous moment that breaks gender stereotypes and makes Sharma one of the coolest female actors, who is not afraid to step out of “comfort zones”. Sharma delivers an unhinged, career-altering performance, and I hope her star-power brings in people to watch an extremely relevant and highly-engaging horror film.
I’m calling NH10 a horror film because it terrifies you and makes you cringe more than those “supernatural thrillers” that depend on tacky VFX and awful make-up to induce cheap thrills. What makes NH10 truly scary is how relatable it is.
Arjun and Meera, played by Neil Bhoopalam and Sharma respectively, get attacked by hoodlums on National Highway 10 after they witness the brutal killing of a couple who’ve just had an inter-caste marriage. They are stranded in the middle of nowhere and have to fight for their lives over several hours.
NH10 follows the plot of British film Eden Lake almost to the T. Yet, even if it may be an unofficial remake, director Navdeep Singh and writer Sudip Sharma layer the plot with strong social pointers. Honour killings, the caste system, a skewed sex ratio, gender inequality and a handicapped law-and-order system are all woven around edge-of-the-seat entertainment.
A scene where Meera says a loud and clear “Fuck you” to her attackers isn’t only about an injured woman striking back. But it is also a middle finger to the regressive India that resides next to the free-thinking one.