APURVA is the story of a girl in difficult circumstances. In Chambal, Madhya Pradesh, Jugnu (Rajpal Yadav), Sukha (Abhishek Banerjee), Balli (Sumit Gulati) and Chota (Aaditya Gupta) are highway thieves. They get a tip that a truck is carrying important goods that can fetch them good money. They start heading to their destination when suddenly, a tourist bus refuses to give them way. An angry Jugnu, who is behind the wheel, overtakes the bus and stops his car in front of it. He and the gang member kill the bus driver and the cleaner and begin looting the passengers. One of the passengers is Apurva (Tara Sutaria), a Gwalior-based girl who’s on her way to meet her fiancé, Siddharth (Dhairya Karwa). She hides her phone from the thieves. But Sukha spots the phone. At that moment, Siddharth calls her. Sukha picks up the phone and insults Siddharth. Siddharth hits back. Sukha gets enraged and kidnaps Apurva. They take her to a secluded place with the idea of raping her and then finishing her off. What happens next forms the rest of the film.
Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s story is clichéd. But Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s screenplay is gripping. Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s dialogues are raw. Since it’s a realistic film, there are barely any punchy dialogues.
Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s direction is neat. He keeps the duration at check (100 minutes) and also the focus is on the principal track mainly. He makes good use of the arid landscape and peppers the film with a lot of nail-biting moments. The film gets better once Apurva decides to fight back. The scene involving the well is clap-worthy.
On the flipside, the film is okay in the initial portions until Apurva’s entry. A film like this needs to show violence and disturbing visuals, so that the viewers cheer for the protagonist when she succeeds. Yet, a few shots are crude and needlessly added. The ending is a bit underwhelming. Also, the film gives a déjà vu of films like NH 10 .
Tara Sutaria delivers the best performance of her career and looks convincing as a girl fighting off dangerous goons. Rajpal Yadav is quite good and though he has a comic image, he slips into the role effortlessly. Abhishek Banerjee is dependable, as expected. Sumit Gulati and Aaditya Gupta also do well. Dhairya Karwa lends able support. The actor playing the jyotish and cop are fair.
Vishal Mishra’s music is forgettable. Both ‘Diwali’ and ‘Hai Khuda’ don’t register at all. Ketan Sodha’s background score adds to the tension.
Anshuman Mahaley’s cinematography is terrific. The impact of a few scenes goes up thanks to the camerawork. Kristel Dias’ production design is realistic. Anisha Jain’s costumes are straight out of life. Salaam Ansari’s action is as per the film’s mood. Shivkumar Panicker’s editing is sharp.
On the whole, APURVA is a well-made gripping thriller.