Netted with love, lost, betrayal, sin, guilt, vengeance and redemption, first timer Atanu Mukherjee’s emotive suspense thriller RUKH is an intoxicating and baffling piece in the mystery thriller drama genre.
An Eros International presentation of a Drishyam Films production – the people behind India’s official Oscar entry of the year – The stark, dark and witty gem NEWTON starring Rajkummar Rao, RUKH (the Urdu word which is multilayered in its meaning, it can be facet, attitude, side, viewpoint etc) claims to have its seeds of inspirations from the Father of Asian Cinema Akira Kurosawa's cult masterpiece ROSHOMON.
The 1950 landmark Japanese masterpiece introduced an innovative narrative structure that recounts an incident from four differing viewpoints – the masterly exploited human psyche by Kurosawa where human begins have an opinion has been exploited in our cinema before. The highly acclaimed thriller DRISHYAM which starred Mohanlal, Kamal Hassan and Ajay Devgn in its Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi versions respectively embraced the idea of telling an incident with different perspectives. Similarly Sai Paranjpye’s evergreen cult comedy CHASHME BUDDOOR (1981) starring Farooq Shaikh and Deepti Naval in lead had an interesting episode that paid a worthy tribute to the Asian master’s cult.
Written by Atanu Mukherjee and Akash Mohimen, RUKH opens with a pensive Divakar Mathur (Manoj Bajpayee) and his wife Nandini Mathur (Smita Tambe) having a word about their son Dhruv Mathur (Adarsh Gourav) who is in boarding school. Cut to another scene Divakar is playing a game of chess with his ailing father and leaves it incomplete. Shocking news of Divakar falling victim of a hit and run case sends shivers amongst the family. The young 18-year-old Dhruv comes back from boarding and things take unexpected turn. While Dhruv is trying his best to cope with the tragedy, he encounters some mysterious hidden truths about his father’s death that make him suspicious while his conscience is secretly fighting a battle related to his past.
The narration by Atanu Mukherjee is lenient that takes its time to intoxicate the audience with its twist, playing with the whodunit format with the emotional father – son relationship overtones which as the film progresses turns out to be the mask as the mystery unfolds.
UDAAN, PAA, DEAR DAD etc Bollywood has its share of showcasing father son relationship in different shades - rebellious, compassionate and broadminded, RUKH’s intimacy with the father – son bond is different as it’s an afterthought, realization of the principal character Dhruv who understands the affection of his father in due process from incidents occurred during his quest to find the truth behind his father’s death.
The helmer Atanu Mukherjee makes an effective suspense thriller that has its layers of the aghast, despair, love, betrayal and mistake and succeeds in engulfing the audience who have a taste of mystery that requires a bit of patience and better understanding of emotions. It’s a suspense mystery but it’s wrapped in an emotive story that also serves as a journey of self-discovery.
Unlike mainstream suspense thrillers, RUKH discards the tried and tested formula in its entire runtime; it smoothly flows and allows the audience to exercise their wisdom on what could have been the actual truth till it comes out with the unexpected revelation.
The climax takes an intriguing turn that further separates this emotional suspense thriller from the routine whodunit or mysteries. The tension which was gradually built up and maintained eases off smoothly in the end.
RUKH gets the required reaction from the audience thanks to its riveting performances by the main leads.
Manoj Bajpayee is amazingly effortless in projecting a man of true virtues torn between love, responsibility and guilt, the controlled despair and aghast is exhilarating to watch. He is simply brilliant.
Adarsh Gourav who plays the son was last seen in Sridevi’s marvelous comeback MOM, the tormentor in the mainstream rape vendetta saga this time as the narrative requires takes his time to enter into the eyes and mind of the audience and when it’s done, makes sure that the bonding is not lost. Adarsh Gourav gives a probing and compelling performance as Dhruv.
Smita Tambe as the helpless observer is compelling and just perfect. Kumud Mishra as Robin in one word is outstanding.Production values are perfect. Pooja Gupte’s cinematography is appealing with its different tones and shades that capture the atmosphere. Anjo John's background score sets the mood while Amit Trivedi’s haunting numbers like Khidki and Hai Baki gives the emotive feeling while one is watching. Sanglap Bhowmick’s editing is fine.
On the flip side, RUKH falls short in the intensity factor for the audience who starve for high octane suspense thrillers, it’s too poetic (slow paced) for the entertainment hungry souls of Bollywood. Plus characters like Nagrajan, the real estate dealer and Shinde are not completely developed and appear half baked. Other characters like the Azzi, and Divakar’s father suddenly disappear.
All said and done, RUKH is an intoxicatingly baffling suspense thriller that comes with a rare emotive trait that showcases father son relationship in a different stage powered by riveting performance by Adarsh Gourav and Manoj Bajpayee. Designed for those who have a better taste and understanding of such genre and are not immune to those regular suspense whodunit mysteries.