Review: Bollywood films of the 1980s and 90s usually get a bad rap for portraying rape to titillate. Director Harsh Warrdhan’s In Car is precisely on the opposite end of the spectrum and makes you squirm in your seat just like the film’s protagonist, Sakshi Gulati (National Award winner Ritika Singh), trying to wriggle out as she is abducted from a bus stop and driven to a secluded location to be raped.
The movie showcases many issues prevalent in a misogynistic society. It touches upon honour killing, as one of the abductors and the main culprit, as it were, Richie (Manish Jhanjholia), is out on bail after thrashing his elder sister’s boyfriend. It also has onlookers who turn their faces away, including a female cop who doesn’t move an inch when the young college girl is taken, a petrol pump staff member, or a food delivery boy for whom such incidents are de rigueur.
As the movie’s first half takes time to build the drama, every second of the film will make your blood curdle. Richie passes disgusting remarks on the women when looking for prey. You cannot help but be horrified that the criminals’ shameless entitlement in choosing their victim – rustic, dark-skinned, and skinny girls are rejected.
Harsh Warrdhan and award-winning cinematographer Mithun Gangopadhyay do well in keeping the movie gripping despite filming a significant portion inside a car — the title is a pun on the events in the car and on ‘no’ (inkaar). The wide angles and top shots add to the film’s visual appeal. However, the movie’s first half drags after a point, and the happenings seem to be overdone. It picks up pace in the second half, and all the bits when Sakshi tries to escape will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The outing attempts to delve into the culprits’ minds. The oft-repeated question about how such men can worship goddesses yet treat women so inhumanly finds a space, and Richie reminds Sakshi that she’s only a powerless lesser mortal who doesn’t deserve better treatment. It also presents irony on a couple of occasions. For instance, Richie haughtily tells her that no one would dare to misbehave with his sister while he goes about doing the same. He also chides her and asks if her parents didn’t teach her ‘to control’ when she urinates in the car, and you wonder the same about the molester’s lack of self-control over his sexual urges.
The film centres around five people – the old driver whose car the culprits hijack (Gyan Prakash), Sakshi, Richie, his elder brother Yash (Sandeep Goyat) and uncle (Sunil Soni), and each one gives a powerful performance. Manish gets his part so perfectly that he fills you with disgust in every frame. Sandeep, his slightly more decent and considerate brother, also does a good job. Ritika also shines as the hapless girl or when trying to escape.
If you have the stomach for a triggering fare, catch this hard-hitting and edge-of-the-seat survival drama thriller.
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