The apartment in Vikramaditya Motwane’s “Trapped” is sparsely furnished. When the film’s protagonist, Shaurya (Rajkummar Rao), moves in on 12 hours’ notice, he brings his worldly belongings in a duffel bag, and finds just enough in the musty 35th floor Mumbai apartment for him to function.
In a city where real estate is expensive, bachelors find it difficult to rent and affordable housing is a joke. Shaurya seems to have hit the jackpot with an apartment in a new – as yet unoccupied –high-rise, with minimal rent and no pesky landlord in sight.
A more cautious man might have wondered what the catch was, but Shaurya is deliriously in love with his colleague Noorie (Geetanjali Thapa) and desperate for her to marry him. But Noorie is already betrothed to someone else, and seems skeptical about Shaurya’s offer of marriage.
“Where will we live? Here?” she asks him, looking around the cramped room that he shares with three others. Shaurya moves out the next day, but his happiness at finding the perfect apartment barely lasts a few hours. A moment of forgetfulness leaves him locked inside the flat, without electricity and water.
At first, help seems literally an arm’s length away. He can see people going about their daily tasks from his window; there is also a watchman in the building. Surely, someone will spot him. But as day turns into night and he runs out of options, Shaurya becomes desperate.
Shaurya is stranded in the middle of a chaotic city that does not have the time to look up at the man waving frantically from the 30th floor.
Shaurya finds he has to draw on reserves of strength he didn’t know he possessed, battling his biggest fears and overcoming obstacles as he tries to escape from his prison.
The script by Hardik Mehta and Amit Joshi is as bare-boned as the apartment where the story is set. The focus is on Shaurya’s struggle to survive and escape.
In the absence of any other frills or distractions, it is only Rao who can hold the viewer’s attention. He does more than that.
In a pitch-perfect performance, he goes from bright-eyed boyfriend to glassy-eyed survivor desperate to eat cockroaches and drink sewage water in order to live.
To Motwane’s credit, he hardly intrudes into Rao’s world, letting his leading man take centre-stage and keeping the narrative style uncluttered.
“Trapped” is one of those films taken to another level only on the strength of a powerhouse performance, and Rajkummar Rao will be remembered for this one for a long, long time.