Trapped is the ultimate urban nightmare. A man gets locked into an empty apartment in an empty Mumbai high-rise. He has no food, water or electricity. He does have a rat for company. There’s also a cockroach which ends up…you don’t want to know. With one actor, one location and a miniscule budget, director Vikramaditya Motwane creates a layered survival story. Beyond the immediate horror, Trapped is also a piercing portrait of a beautiful but brutal Mumbai, where towering buildings loom like concrete carcasses.
Trapped works because the scenario is utterly plausible. Writers Amit Joshi and Hardik Mehta give us an ordinary man – Shaurya – who works in a travel agency. Thanks to a heady romance, Shaurya needs to find an apartment. Enter a shady broker type, a building that is deserted because of ‘court ka lafda,’ a watchman who can barely hear and a timely breeze that shuts the door. This could happen to any of us.
Which is why we become totally invested in Shaurya’s horrific situation. We are trapped with him. Vikram, cinematographer Siddharth Diwan and editor Nitin Baid skillfully build the claustrophobia and Shaurya’s anguish. The background score by Alokananda Dasgupta adds to our sense of dread. We desperately hope that Shaurya’s attempts at attracting attention succeed. I’ll admit that I shut my eyes when he cut himself so he could use his blood to create a sign. You might find echoes of Hollywood films like Cast Away and Buried here but Trapped is a singularly Mumbai movie. Where else can a man be surrounded by thousands of people and yet be so utterly alone?
Trapped is a tight-wire act, which would collapse without the masterful Rajkummar Rao. When we first meet him, Shaurya is so timid that the slightest sound frightens him. He’s a vegetarian whose dream food is pav bhaji. Shaurya’s confinement forces him to become heroic and savage and Rajkummar makes this transformation entirely convincing. Shaurya’s vulnerability, desperation and desolation fill the frame.
Thankfully Trapped is releasing without an interval. The duration is a crisp 103 minutes and yet, there are stretches when the scenario feels repetitive and you lose patience. But stay with Shaurya because his story has a haunting quality. He and you will take time to recover.