Thursday, March 19, 2015

NH10 - When Crime is Not Crime

                                                          Film review NH 10 

Let me start from the end. My favourite actress Deepti Naval does what a #khap matriarch will do.

When Meera (Anushka Sharma), finds the sarpanch’s (Deepti Naval) home in the dark night, she collapses into her arms. After all, she has been running through the night trying to find someone to report the murder of two people, a girl and a boy, she has seen only a few hours ago. Her husband, (Neil Bhoopalam), who is lying almost dead, needs help, but the police station will not have Meera’s Report. Totally exhausted, she faints in Deepti Naval’s arms and is kindly carried to the bed and is taken care of, only until she discloses that she has seen this grown up girl with her husband being beaten and killed and buried in the dark, by four men and she needs to report this in order to find help.

Within seconds the sarpanch turns foe and to Meera’s great surprise dashes out of the room and locks her in. Meera has intervened in something that is private and personal to the sarpanch and the people of that village. Meera is now a criminal in their eyes.

“She was our daughter; what we did is what we had to do.” The sarpanch, the khap matriarch’s judgment is final.

In a gruesome tale of violence that literally begins at the very start of the film, honour killing, a tradition followed by the khaps in India a couple is murdered because the boy and the girl had the guts to fall in love and marry outside the community, by none else but her brother, uncle and people from the family, with full consent of the women in the house, the oldest being, Deepti Naval.
Meera and Arjun are Corporate honchos who decide to go on a weekend visit outside Delhi where they are employed. Not that Meera does not face discrimination and sexist remarks on the corridors and conference halls of corporate houses, who see her success as something that has come to her easily because she is a woman, but when she is out with her husband she can see that her body is the target of many abuses like randi, written on the wall of the ladies rest room at the local dhaba, which means in slang language ‘prostitute’.

It is at this dhaba, that she and her husband encounter the four men dragging the screaming woman and her boyfriend/husband into a SUV and driving off. Arjun is anxious to follow, although Meera is not, but as fate would have it, they were destined to see, like the audience, the gruesome death of the couple, in the hands of her family.

The darkness of the night and the foggy weather in northern India, where the film was shot, makes for a difficult run, but finally, Arjun and Meera face as gruesome an end, or almost!

Meera, comes through as a powerful woman figure, fighting patriarchy, or maybe just fighting for her life and Arjun’s in the midst of moments of deep helplessness. Yet, will she be able to save Arjun’s life, who is now flirting with death himself, or if not, then will she join the criminals too, by doing unto them, what they have done to her own husband and the couple they killed beside the highway, NH 10?

If you can stomach violence, blood and gut wrenching screams without throwing up, then watch the movie.

If you can’t then, do so, because you must know what crime, which is not thought of as crime really means to the khaps. You will know, why there is no remorse for taking life, because, given individual(s) fails to follow the rules set by a highly patriarchal society, where norms must be followed and taboo is taboo which results in death if not followed, there is NO Crime bigger than disobedience to the rules.

And law is in the hands of the community not the state.

Does Meera, follow the same norms then, to kill without remorse or to kill for revenge.

Director Navdeep Singh, a masterpiece this! Three Cheers to you!

Anushka Sharma as Meera
Neil Bhoopalam as Arjun
Darshan Kumaar as Satbir
Deepti Naval
Tanya Purohit Dobhal as Satbir's wife

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