This is probably the first film since Delhi Belly (2011) to release in theatres without an interval. Here’s why that makes sense.
As you can tell from the self-explanatory title, and the promo, there is a man trapped in this film. He needs to be evacuated from the most normal situation anyone can ever find themselves in—being at home, on any given day.
The building, as it were, is desolate. The house door is metallic. The cell-phone doesn’t work. Neither do the water-supply, and the electricity connection. Almost all through the movie, there’s merely one actor on the screen. How can there be much dialogue, which by its very definition requires two people! The setting is essentially one hall, bedroom, and kitchen; or 1 BHK, to put it in pure Bambaiya.
What does one even derive from such a film then, besides a mental-game to check if the protaganist has exhausted all the options that can help him get out? It’d be impossible to engage with such a movie, if it wasn’t for an exhaustingly empathetic experience, where the audience, along with the lead character, can literally feel the claustrophobia. And yes, you do. Now imagine a quick pop-corn break while you’re at it. That’d be like suddenly stopping in the middle of fine foreplay.
What do the filmmakers get so right; or rather what do they really need to set this film up? A camera, I’m sure. Much like that one-room masterpiece, Sidney Lumet’s '12 Angry Men' (1957), you see this picture start off with lots of long-shots, and the camera gradually zeroing in to tighter close-ups of Rajkummar Rao building up the tension. Oh, which is another thing you’d require, of course: a performer as competent; ideally, trained, as the FTII acting grad Rao, who helps you get into his character’s severely agitated mind, while we know so little about him in the first place.
The dystopian concrete jungle of Bombay, with high-rises competing for a spot in the sky, is enough to place and sense the puniness, and helplessness, of this lead character, fighting for survival in what could well be a nuclear holocaust like situation. The last time I saw a film with a slightly similar predicament, I guess, was Danny Boyle’s '127 Hours' (2010). That movie also sort of stunned you for how minimalist it was, given that this was Boyle after the exhilarating, panoramic 'Slumdog Millionaire' (2008)!
Similarly, this is Vikramaditya Motwane’s third film as director, after the big-budget, period piece 'Lootera' (2013). The closest Indian analogy I can think of is Ram Gopal Varma making 'Kaun?' (1999), set in a bungalow, after capturing the whole under-belly of Bombay in Satya (1998). Motwane made his debut with 'Udaan', that I am happy to report, since so many people consider it their favourite Indian movie, will survive the test of time. What do 'Udaan' (about a teenager’s angst), 'Lootera' (zamindar’s daughter falling for a robber), and this picture, have in common? Nothing. Besides, that they reveal a hugely competent, astonishingly eclectic filmmaker, who hasn't fallen into a trap. One could argue that the lead character in each of the films feels trapped, at some level. But then isn’t that true for every conflict, without which there would be no story anyway!
So, well, the plot here is about as long as this movie’s title. Yet I watched portions of it with my hand covering my mouth. At what point — of course, won’t tell you what happened on the screen — I had nearly blocked my eyes. God knows even thought of puking (only thought, so pardon the exaggeration).
That 'Trapped' manages to grippingly hold your attention with such an underwhelming setting is an achievement in itself. That it could invade your senses makes it worth every minute, without any break, in the theatre.