The Hindi movie Apurva is directed by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat and stars Tara Sutaria, Abhishek Banerjee, Dhairya Karwa, Rajpal Yadav
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The Chambal valley, dry and dreary, is known to harbour some of the most bone-chillingly horrid creatures. Of the human variety, that is. It is known to be the de facto headquarters of stone-hearted dacoits. When a young woman is kidnapped in the wilds of this acrid land, imagine the spine-chilling horrors it can throw up. Unfortunately, Apurva, directed by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, doesn’t do that. It stumbles on the barricades of predictability. And the genre thrills it throws up are meager and not so satisfying.
The story is simple. Sadly, the treatment of it is a tad too simplistic. A young woman, Apurva (Tara Sutaria), sets out to Agra on a bus to meet her fiance Sidharth (Dhairya Karwa). It is supposed to be a surprise for him on his birthday., But the surprise becomes a thing of shock as en route Apurva runs into trouble. Big trouble. A bunch of mercenary killer robbers are out on the loose.
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The loathsome foursome are Sukkha (Abhishek Banerjee), Jugnu (Rajpal Yadav), Chotta (Aaditya Gupta) and Balli (Sumit Gulati). They, especially Sukka, set their eyes on Apurva. They abduct the hapless Apurva. But soon enough Apurva, who is plucky and spunky, manages to give the slip to the malcontents.
But where will she run into? It is in the middle of nowhere in the dreaded Chambal Valley. There are a bunch of emptied houses and deserted nooks and crannies. It is in this machiavellian maze that Apurva turns the table on her aggressors. Can she really outwit the crooks in a desolate place? Well, you know how this will play out.
Interwoven into this hardy escape drama are the flashbacks of Apurva and Sidharth and their love story. This arc is to get us emotionally invested in her escape. But the cutesy portions are cliche-filled much like the rest of the film. The location of the story and its depiction on screen are indeed spot on. They do get the atmospherics right. But beyond that, the narration has nothing in it for us to get a grip. The grooves are predictable and things are made worse by underwhelming characterisation.
We get the villains are full of evil, but the evilness that should make us bite our nails in suspense and desperation doesn’t happen on screen. That is because the characters have very little real dimension to them. Despite bankable actors like Rajpal Yadav and Abhishek Banerjee, the characters remain shallow. But they sure try their best.
The young Tara Sutaria has to punch above her weight to make the film work. She is full of earnestness. But the same cannot be said of the film. Getting the setting right is one thing. Getting the other aspects to work is another. Apurva is sincere without providing the chills that it is supposed to.
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An engineer-turned-journalist, K Balakumar’s career began in print publications as a sports writer. That also opened doors for other journalistic avenues like films, music, finance, technology and politics, which nobody can escape in India. After 30 yrs in mainstream journalism, now a freelancer for various digital publications.