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Rukh review: Manoj Bajpayee's stellar performance holds fascinating, slow-burning drama

Release Date: 27 Oct 2017 / Rated: U/A / 01hr 46min

Cinestaan Rating

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Shriram Iyengar

Atanu Mukherjee's directorial debut simmers with high craft and some wonderful storytelling.

Recently, Martin Scorsese spoke up against the habit of audiences and of critics to classify films into genres and by box-office numbers. By the great director's definition, Atanu Mukherjee has delivered a work of cinema that is both engrossing and artistic.

The story begins with the death of Diwakar Mathur (Manoj Bajpayee), a businessman who owns a leather-cleaning factory. While his wife (Smita Tambe) gets on with the official work after the death, his son Dhruv (Adarsh Gourav) is not so pleased.

A rebellious teenager, Dhruv is antsy, angry and constantly in search of something that would reconcile him with his dead father. He soon learns of Diwakar's Saudi Arabia-based partner (Kumud Mishra) and the money-laundering saga that Diwakar seems to be caught up in. This convinces Dhruv that the death was no accident, but no one is willing to offer him an answer.

The film is a wonderful piece of cinema that unravels slowly with each scene. There also lies the first problem of Mukherjee's film. The pace, while suitable to the plot development, is often so slow that it exhibits a feeling of pretentiousness.

The director plays the sleight-of-hand moments well by distributing them throughout the plot. However, they are not esoteric enough to not be noticed by a careful watcher, or to mislead the gullible one. The scenes are crafted with enough metaphors and moments that circle to a convenient end. The dialogues are crafted well and say a lot without revealing much. The director's ability to allow the bursts of emotions to be imagined, by focusing away from the actors, add to the film's feel.

The acting is the high point of Rukh. Bajpayee, while making a special appearance, is scattered through the film's duration, making his character appear the idealistic father shouldering the burden of his sorrow. His character is the film's soul, and a mirror to Dhruv's constant anger. Bajpayee delivers his performance with the nonchalance of a gifted craftsman going about his daily routine.

Tambe delivers fantastically well as the mother who knows the secret but continues to maintain a facade for the sake of her child. But it is Gourav who steals the show as the angry, confused young man in search of the truth. His portrayal of a youth who recognizes the masks of his parents' expressions a little too late is wonderful. The actor, who has already won plaudits for his role in Mom (2017), delivers another wonderful performance that keeps the film together.

The controlled and understated performances enhance the unravelling of the plot and make it worth every penny for the audience.

Mukherjee deserves praise for portraying the struggle of a teenager to be treated as an adult, to be told the problems of his family before it is too late.

The psychological tension of the drama, its unfolding, the craft of acting in the film make it a wonderful piece of work. However, the slow pace of the film is a serious drawback. Often, there is little or nothing happening in scenes which might make it difficult for an audience which lives on Twitter updates every 30 seconds.

Rukh is a lot like life. It is not satisfactory in its answers, or absolutely boring in its occurrence. It is bitter-sweet, confusing, but in the end, you accept it with a sigh.

Here is an interview Cinestaan.com did with the cast of Rukh: