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NH10's intentions, even if they are extremely low-key, show up in its early parts. The woman, Meera (Anushka) in a gathering is desperate for some space to have a smoke at the absence of her husband. She is advised by her friend to not shift to Bangalore, due to the closure of bars at 11:30 pm. "Look at Delhi,"she says. Escaping a near molestation bid on the road that very night, she feels shaken inside. A cop gives her a free advice to not travel alone in the nights. This series of incidents prepares you for something female-centric and to receive an invitation for a raw action thriller with an interesting mix of vulnerability and aggression.
Resembling Kahaani, in the sense that, the feminist touches are more visual than verbose, NH10 weaves threads about barriers in the course of its narrative. Meera doesn't carry her gun around for safety because her man's around. A colleague of hers makes a casual statement, "Women have it easier with bosses,"after a meeting. The film doesn't elaborate these stretches beyond necessity.
Indirectly, you see the maker with statements surrounding and defying the thin lines between good and bad, the stereotypes of a male and a female, the upper and lower castes. The film in majority deals with an episode that happens over a day's span. There's a message it tries to leave behind, but it doesn't impose upon you to buy it. You're left free to consider it a realistic commercial film, focusing on a terrible day in the life of a woman.
The accomplishment here is the lightweight nature of it all. There are visuals that unabashedly justify violence or that specific moment of urge to give it back. But, not for a moment, NH10 feels like it's taking sides. The perception of right and wrong varies, it's tempted to utter. Even, Meera by the end of it wears only a weary expression. She's not even trying to analyse what she just did.
Anushka gets a part where you're forced to ask if a gender actually matters. She trembles with it well. As a viewer who doesn't want to peep into all this sub-text, you get occasional thrills of her car-rides, no-nonsense aggressive moments and the slow dragging of the iron rod, that you normally see in the shoes of a Salman or Akshay.
The case of casting Deepti Naval in the film is a calculated choice of anti-stereotyping. It's not as well-sketched as it appears to be, but the part registers in your mind. Darshaan Kumar, the underplayed face of Mary Kom, has a deliberate incomplete expression throughout . He throws hints that he's mortal enough initially and takes the other way soon enough. The film too is that. It appears to be a solid offering and it turns out that, you are just expecting too much. The filmmaking leaves you impressed, but you also come back with a slight sense of, 'Why not anything more ?'.