A guy trapped inside an empty building with no means of communication, no electricity, food or water. This one-line description is enough to make every cinephile worth his ticket flock to the multiplex and get glued to this no-interval-no-song film promoted as India’s first ‘survival thriller’. Since the word ‘survival’ is quite a giveaway, you expect the protagonist to survive. So, we zero in on the ‘how’ part of the film, which becomes the reason to stay invested in ‘Trapped’, a film produced by Phantom films and directed by Vikramaditya Motwane.
Well, the ‘how’ part is precisely where the film disappoints. Within the first thirty minutes, one could hear the audience whispering the obvious solution for the protagonist. “Oh, come on, it’s a Vikramaditya Motwane film! How can it be so obvious…There must be some layer to it,” I said to myself, averting the distraction.
“Why doesn’t this guy check with the broker about the basic amenities of the apartment before closing the deal? Is he sure whether the girl (Geetanjali Thapa in a brief but memorable role) he is buying the apartment for is going to dump her current alliance and marry him the next day? Why doesn’t he call her up in the night or hint her about the surprise (or shock) that awaits her? There’s a huge dearth of homes in Mumbai and empty buildings (with ready furniture and balcony grilles) are fiercely guarded by watchmen, lest the trespassers might start residing in them.
So why is this watchman so laidback and claims that he has never seen anybody residing in it for the last two years? Why is water and electricity supply still present in an apartment which has never been inhabited for two years? How is it possible that the protagonist’s girlfriend, office colleagues or family (If he had one) never bother to trace him or even ask him about his whereabouts towards the film’s end.
Questions of such kind keep cropping up all the time while watching Trapped and the only way you can appreciate this film is by lauding the details and most importantly, the background score by Alokananda Dasgupta, the innovative ideas of survival by writers Amit Joshi and Hardik Mehta, sound design by Anish John, and like they say, ‘above all’: the nuanced performance by Rajkummar Rao.
The actor transforms himself into his character, Shaurya and is perfect to a fault. It is the writing that lets his character down because by the first hour of the film, the audience writes him off as dimwitted (Which harms a film that attempts to portray him as an innovative and resilient survivor) and there hence is a complete disconnect with his character. After a certain point, you stop caring about him and begin wondering why the filmmaker didn’t choose to make a short film instead?
In an interview, director Vikramaditya Motwane stated that with Trapped, he has set the stories of ‘Buried’, ‘127 hours’, and ‘Cast Away’ in an urban backdrop. But alas, the point he seems to miss is the transformation that the survivor goes through during the whole process. Trapped, with all its ‘survivor thriller’ trappings, fails to rise above its predecessors. Sigh.