Director: Atanu Mukherjee
Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Adarsh Gourav, Smita Tambe, Kumud Mishra
Not many Bollywood films offer you the privilege to just sit back and let yourself get immersed in their plot's thrills. That privilege is often interrupted by immaterial song sequences, irrelevant dialogues and forced acting. But Atanu Mukherjee’s maiden film, Rukh, is far from usual potboilers. In fact, rarely does one watches a film that isn’t too many words, but more of silence, eyes, actions and reactions.
Right after the beginning, we see Divakar (Manoj Bajpayee) telling his Alzheimer-ridden father “Khatam nahi hua abhi, phir se shuru karege,” when the latter complains to him for leaving a game of chess unfinished. Divakar meets with an accident and passes away on the same night.
Dhruv Mathur (Adarsh Gourav), his teenage son residing in a hostel finds out about his father’s death and rushes home to be with his mother Nandini (Smita Tambe). As an 18-year-old, unaware of his family crisis, Dhruv begins to seek answers to Divakar’s death- was it a real car accident or a stages murder?Image: Youtube/ A still from Rukh trailer
As much as his mother Nandini tries to shield him and asks him to stay away from these matters, Dhruv’s grief fuels him to find out the truth. The search not only answers his father’s death but unravels a series of hidden truths about Divakar’s life and his personality. And perhaps, Dhruv’s life and personality too.
As Dhruv connects the dots, you begin to further untie the knots in the plot and learn about other characters- his father’s friend turned business partner Robin (Kumud Mishra), their only confidante Hassan, the accountant Jayant and the old yet warm ajji among others.
And while you might learn the various facets of the story through Dhruv’s gazing eyes, but never for once do the makers dictate you how and what to feel. And that’s the beauty of the film.
It’s made clear right in the beginning that it’s not a Manoj Bajayee film and that he only features in a special appearance. And even though his special appearance lasts longer than the usual ones, it doesn’t turn out to be a bad thing as Bajpayee holds this film together. In flashbacks, his restrained act and nuanced dialogue delivery breathe life into a dead character.
Smita Tambe, too, delivers an ace act. As a strong woman ready to go miles to keep secrets from her family for their well-being, you see a myriad of emotions and layers of characters-from a protective mother, a grieving wife, a worried daughter to a self-governing woman. Both Shubhrajyoti Bharat, as the accountant Jayant and Kumud Mishra as a self-indulgent business partner, pull off their bits finely.
But it’s the young gun Adarsh Gourav who brilliantly holds his own and shines throughout. He fits the bill of a teenager, disturbed by his past moments and trying to cope up with the loss of his father’s death, just perfectly. It’s not through his words, but only through intense gaze that his grief, angst and pain of loss become palpable and come right at you.
Rukh, which essentially means direction, feels like an apt title for the film once you’re through with the running time. The film’s plot changes its course from troubles of one character to another without losing the sight of Dhurv’s life and the final message per se. While Dhruv’s perspective too ambles time to time- first when he’s sent to the boarding school, second when he learns about his father’s death, then when his mother shares the secret of past and finally when he ends up finding out more than what he was looking for.
Mukherjee makes sure that everything they want you to know is right there on their faces and in their eyes. It’s as if the characters need no words, and that perhaps, adds more weight to the few dialogues they mouth. Plus, the fact that the film has just two songs helmed by Amit Trivedi and a merging background score by Anjo John, purely works in its favour.
Rukh might be away from both commercial and art house tags, but it’s an experiential film that draws you in with its thrills and intrigues you with its silences. And even though the experience can be best defined as to each his own, the film is likely to stay with you moments after you leave the theater.