Apurva is a rugged, riveting thriller

Tara Sutaria in Apurva. Photo: Trailer Video Grab 

Leave aside some minor glitches, like the coincidental meeting between astrologer Tara (Rakesh Chaturvedi Om) and Siddharth (Dhairya Karwa) who is fiancé to Apurva (Tara Sutaria) and the absurdity of an illuminated railway tunnel in the interiors of Chambal, both of which could have been avoided without making a fig of a difference, and Apurva is a rugged delight. The story is about a doggedly determined girl of that name, who refuses to cover down to brutes who want to rape and kill her.

A chain of events sees the Ranga Gang, led by Jugnu (Rajpal Nagpaul Yadav), overtake a tourist bus and kill the driver and conductor, besides looting the passengers. The gang comprises the brutal and sadistic Sukkha (Abhishek Banerjee), Chhota (Aditya Gupta) and Balli (Aditya Gupta). The Chambal Valley, where the film is set, has been home for eons to such plunderers, and these foursome are fearless and operate without fear and with no fixed base.

Tara, one of the passengers on this bus, out to meet her fiancé in Agra, is chosen to be taken away by the gang as she has refused to part with her phone while she was talking to Siddharth. The four speed away with her, hell-bent on having ‘fun’ with the girl and then getting rid of her. A vicious slap by one of them makes her unconscious and the four wait for her to regain consciousness before they can take turns with her.

However, the doughty girl, on regaining consciousness, decides to escape and is almost caught by Chhota, who is coming back with a pail of water to douse on her for regaining consciousness. In the ensuing struggle, Apurva kills Chhota.

The remaining trio hears noises and come looking for her, but she escapes in the surroundings of a brick quarry. The three ruthlessly search for her even after darkness falls, but recalling the demeaning remarks by them and the way her dignity has been outraged by her tormentors, Apurva overcomes her panic and transforms into a steely vendetta machine.

Tara Sutaria, giving an easy yet power-packed performance, delivers—and how! Getting the first meaty role of her short career, she spares no effort in shining as the small-town girl who cannot reverse a car who turns into a resolute and cold-blooded killer of evil men by using devious means.

Apurva’s significance lies in the fact that we cannot ignore good-looking damsels as just glam dolls. All it takes for them to show how good they can be are a good role, an energizing script and a visionary director.

With some smart writing, albeit with gratuitous violence, director and writer Nikhil Nagesh Bhat ticks all the thriller boxes right with crisp lines, crisp length and a gripping narrative that does not falter, deviate or slow down. Since I watched the film a few days after release, I read of a colleague who compared this film to NH10, which was ridiculous. That film was a deviant and messy avatar of the 1980s feminist vendetta movies. This movie does not offend us, outrage or bore the viewer, but is a taut and tight saga of an ordinary person who can change drastically after being pushed into a corner.

Of the four brutes, three are played by actors known fundamentally for comic turns (a reversal of the way action heroes Akshay Kumar and Suniel Shetty changed gears from fisticuffs to humor), and all three are phenomenal. Rajpal Naurang Yadav’s stony expressions are an absolute treat, as is Sumit Gulati’s maniacal deportment.  Abhishek Banerjee, barely recognizable, is the best of the lot with his gleaming smiles and, later, pleading expressions and tones. Aditya Gupta as the temperamental Chhota is a delight. Rakesh Chaturvedi Om is quite lovable as the astrologer, Tara, who gets unwittingly embroiled in the whole affair.

From the rest, Madhvendra Jha as the phlegmatic and indolent cop gives a skilled essay, but Dhairya Karwa disappoints with his tepid act as Siddharth. The rest of the cast is adequate.

Vishal Mishra’s music is quite unmusical but Ketan Sodha’s background score, though loud occasionally, is better. Cinematographer Anshuman  Mahaley and editor Shivkumar V. Panicker must be commended for helping the director, while a special pat is deserved also by Anisha Jain for the costumes and Abhay Dubey for the production design.

Rating: ***1/2

Disney+Hotstar presents Star Studios’ and Cine1 Studios’ Apurva  Produced by: Murad Khetani and Cine1 Studios  Written & Directed by: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat  Music: Vishal Mishra  Starring: Tara Sutaria, Rajpal Naurang Yadav, Abhishek Banerjee, Dhairya Karwa, Sumit Gulati, Aditya Gupta, Navni Parihar, Rajesh Jais, Geeta Modi, Vinod Sharma, Madhvendra Jha, Rakesh Chaturvedi Om, Pankaj Upadhyay, Varoon Varma & others



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