Eros International, Phantom Films Pvt. Ltd. and Clean Slate Films’ NH10 (A) is the story of a happily married couple, Meera (Anushka Sharma) and Arjun (Neil Bhoopalam), and how their lives overturn due to one incident.
Meera and Arjun live in Gurgaon and are very happy in their space. A one-off incident on the road in the dark of the night frightens Meera, taking the couple to the police on whose recommendation Meera gets the licence to keep a pistol with her for her security. The two decide to go on a picnic one day to celebrate Meera’s birthday. They set off in their car on the National Highway 10.
In Haryana itself, they see Satbir (Darshan Kumar) mercilessly beating his sister, Pinky (Kanchan Sharma), and her husband. Arjun, shocked at the beastly behaviour of Satbir and his cronies, tries to intervene to save Pinky and her husband but he is silenced by Satbir who slaps him tight. As nobody else present there dares to raise his voice, Arjun helplessly gives up even as Satbir and his goons drive away in their own car with Pinky and her husband.
Frustrated, Arjun and Meera get on with their road journey but soon spot Satbir’s car once again. With the intention of scaring Satbir, Arjun gets off his car, this time with Meera’s pistol in hand. It is not long before Arjun and Meera are held captive by Satbir who then murders Pinky and her husband. It is now clear beyond doubt to the shocked Arjun and Meera that these were honour killings.
Meera and Arjun manage to escape from Satbir’s clutches but not before killing one team member, Chhote (Ravi Beniwal). Satbir, with a view to seek revenge, follows them with his hoodlums. Meera and Arjun have to escape from Satbir and his men. Gun shots are fired, knives are used and there is fear in the minds of Arjun and Meera that they would not be spared.
Soon, Arjun is grievously injured and having been forced to abandon their car, Meera now has to battle Satbir and his men all alone in the dark of the night, that too, on the secluded and unsafe highway. Meera even reaches the police station but the police fails to come to her rescue.
Even as Satbir and his army are hot on Meera’s trail, she reaches the village sarpanch’s (Deepti Naval) home, hoping that she would get help from this quarter at least. But she is shocked at the turn of events.
What happens then? What is it that shocks Meera at the sarpanch’s home? Who survives and who is laid to rest? What happens to Arjun?
The film is inspired by the English film, Eden Lake. The screenplay, penned by Sudip Sharma, is very engrossing and engaging. It manages to completely hook the audience’s attention. Since the drama has several twists and turns, the uni-dimensional story doesn’t get monotonous or boring. But the audience’s sympathy doesn’t go out completely to Meera and Arjun, which should’ve been the case, and that’s because the audience feels, Arjun had no business to invite trouble the way he did. In other words, there isn’t a very justifiable reason for Arjun to intervene in Satbir’s business. Of course, the counter-argument to this is that Arjun is a guy with a conscience and, therefore, can’t tolerate injustice. But one does wish that the writer had taken pains to make Arjun’s involvement in Satbir’s affairs not seem so self-inflicted. Another drawback, if one may use the word, is that the drama is very violent and there are scenes of bloodshed, gore and gut-wrenching action, which will be difficult for the womenfolk and family audience to digest. Sudip Sharma’s dialogues are very real.
Anushka Sharma lives the role of Meera and shines with a very noteworthy performance. Her expressions, body language and acting, all add up so that her acting stands out. She is sure to be nominated for the best actress awards this year. Neil Bhoopalam is sincere in the role of Arjun. He gets limited scope. Darshan Kumar is menacing and he acts with effortless ease. Deepti Naval is first-rate as the village sarpanch. Tushar Grover (as Mukesh), Kanchan Sharma (as Pinky), Ravi Jhankal (as Fauji), Jaswant Singh (in the role of Omi), Yogendra Singh (as Ashok), Ashish Sharma (as Ramavtar), Ravi Beniwal (as Chhote), Siddharth Bharadwaj (as the constable), Sushil Tyagi (as the police inspector), Krishan Kumar (as the Bihari migrant), Shruti (as the Bihari migrant’s wife) and Tanya Purohit (as the sarpanch’s daughter-in-law) lend very able support.
Navdeep Singh’s direction is wonderful. He has succeeded in creating the right amount of tension for the audience which will find it difficult to even blink for fear of missing something. Navdeep has kept the film fast-paced so that it doesn’t get boring despite moving on a single track. Music (Bann Chakraborty, Ayushman Shreshta, Savera Mehta and Samira Koppikar) is more functional than anything else. The songs are all background numbers. Lyrics (by Bann Chakraborty, Neeraj Rajawat, Manoj Tapadia and Varun Grover) are alright. The ‘Chhil gaye naina’ song, recorded and picturised for the film’s promotion, is conspicuous by its absence in the film. It should’ve been incorporated in the film because it is indeed very well-tuned (by Sanjeev Darshan). Karan Gour’s background music is very good. Arvind Kannabiran’s cinematography is remarkable and he uses his camera to heighten the fear element. Action scenes, choreographed by Armin Sauer and Abdul Salaam Ansari, are for the masses mainly, but they would also be liked by the multiplex audience because the violence is not uncalled for or meaningless. Mustufa Stationwala’s production designing is very good. Editing (Jabeen Merchant) is crisp and sharp.
On the whole, NH10 is raw and entertaining in its own way. No doubt, it is meant more for the class audience but since the investment in the film (Rs. 14 crore approximately) is not big, it would very easily fetch commission. Sadly, the recovery from all other sources, except India theatrical, would be very limited. In spite of that, the film will fetch profits. It is a film which will win a lot of critical acclaim and one which will make the producers, director, technicians and actors associated with it, proud.