Genre: Drama, Mystery
Director: Atanu Mukherjee
Starring: Manoj Bajpayee, Adarsh Gourav, Kumud Mishra, Smita Tambe, Jaihind Kumar
Runtime: 1h 46mins
‘Rukh’ is the latest release from Drishyam Films who just recovered from the halo of Oscar smeared ‘Newton’ that released on 22nd September this year. Here we find a debutant director Atanu Mukherjee shelling out a film that is reflective in nature and tries exploring facets of cinema knotted by a simple story line. In fact, the simplicity of the film and its approach has invited severe criticism as it is being interpreted as naive and lacklustre. But that is one way to interpret the film in a fast and happening world but the poise it shows and way it attempts subtlety is definitely commendable.
The story on the face of it is utterly simple, but the story is not the film. Dhruv (acted by Adarsh Gourav) is a 17 something of a guy who studies in a boarding school. A clash of him with fellow student Digant goes violent and leaves Digant limping for life. Dhruv runs away in fear. He comes back to his home only to be scolded by his parents. This however is just a sub-plot. The real story kicks in when Dhruv’s father Divakar (acted by Manoj Bajpayee) is killed in an accident which he believes was a murder. There are enough elements for him to suspect his father’s partner and friend acted by Kumud Mishra. The friend had murky financial dealings with foreign money and is an opportunist. His dark dealings shattered the business that he and his father build up. And post his death his father’s image is being maligned by this friend in order to get a clean chit from official investigations. Situations lead Dhruv to believe that his father was being neutralized to cover things up. And the idea sets on him so deep that he ends up chasing the driver of the truck that collided with his father car on the night of the fateful accident. He tries confronting the man with an empty revolver. He is being disarmed eventually and that leads us to the real secret and the only ‘twist in the tale’ beyond his father’s death. Situations linked to other characters leads to the fall of the betrayer. Dhurv has his revenge, literally with his own hands, violently (teen violence although) but it’s not a records set straight end of a film. All are left in a muddle with Dhruv himself going through his own sets realizations and apologizes to Digant the fellow student whom he got limp for life.
The characters and their impetus had all the elements of shinning up with a ‘bang’ for a dark revenge story. The films language (and this film has one) consciously avoids dramatic clashes and stereotyped characters (except for the father himself, who is all good with no shade). Actions, reactions, behaviourisms, script elements consciously minimize themselves, keep things suggestive to some extent at least and create the tone of the film. The father’s friend is a betrayer, after his partner’s death a name slayer and schemer of things but he is no vile and violent arbitrator in this deal and neither a cold blooded goon. He becomes a human being with heinous intentions. The director consciously avoids ‘head-on’ pitch and sets life to the characters and story with a commendable amount of poise. The empty gun which Dhruv’s friend’s employer carries becomes almost a leitmotif when Dhruv appears with it to confront supposed killer of his father. The gun coming back was expected, but the touch of the script/director/film lies with the fact of the empty gun. A beautiful element to signify the immaturity of potential violence in the hands of a teenager and perhaps signifying at the same time the hollowness of the entire concept of violence. Even when Dhruv hits a worker from his father’s factory who is now a pawn of Kumud Mishra the snowball effect of it leads to Kumud Sahi’s fall in front of officials. Both the scenes are again without any dramatic crescendo and somewhat transcends the films and the character Dhruv.
The backdrop the film is set in is the quagmire of urban survival that is filled with betrayal, dark dealings and strife. But such milieus are most often than not portrayed in Indian films with its own theatrics and constant twist in tale. Finally, the protagonist has to come down to an open combat with life (if not literally) with guns and finally win the roses. Here we have revenge, we have guns (that does not have a bullet), twist in tale (only one) and even whiff of roses (the support of Jayant uncle’s teenage daughter for Dhurv, without suggesting any relationship) … we have all but served in a different platter. It leads one to a world of realizations, world where people grow up and survive with a true glimmer of hope. And once again, happens with a drama or action or a crescendo climax, rather a tenor climax that makes the film reflective. What also helps the director and the film in this route is the director’s hard work to stick to realism and his protagonist’s age. The fact that Dhruv is a 17 something of a boy and his vision sets the language of the film. It is this simplicity that is being interpreted as naive at certain corners. But such sweeping comments fail to see the reflective and absorbing nature of the film. Moods are expressed through behaviourism of actors, long focal length lensing, gritty music and story situations that are believably real and the style of avoiding head on drama. Where it lacks perhaps is a serious problem of setting up the rhythm of the film … edit wise it definitely needed more maturity. The other serious shortcoming, as already hinted, is the character of the biggest star of the film Manoj Bajpayee – he all along the script remains an untainted human being who loves his family, cares for the workers of the factory that he owns, and never indulges in illegal dealings of any sort and is always a victim. Compared to this the mothers’ character played superbly by Smita Tambe has several layers (and back up from the script) that makes her a true human being who indulges in a spirit of survival and lives with hidden facts of life to uphold the sincerity of his husband and support the son whose mental flux sets the film in.