“LIVE OR DIE”!! Indian Cinema and Survival thriller

The same routine every day with nothing exciting to do makes us hate our life. We value our lives so less that we forget to enjoy the little details that make the bigger picture.

But sometimes, just two hours of our day can make us realize how invaluable we are and embrace and celebrate every moment of our life with gratitude and love. Survival thrillers are not just a genre of films, they are adventures that make us skip a beat.

My earliest introduction to such a theme traces back to my childhood when I read “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defo. The story of a rich young man stuck in an uninhabited island for almost 27 years and survives the worst, Robinson Crusoe has undisputable reasons to still remain a classic. Cast Away(2000) starring the veteran Tom Hanks is a modern take on this 300-year-old bestseller.

Some of the best survival thrillers are owned by Hollywood. Life of Pi(2012), where a boy gets stranded in the sea with a tiger and Gravity(2013), a movie on how some astronauts try to return to earth are just a few to mention.  Indian cinema has miles to go before being capable of comparison! However, we can never forget the rare few movies that introduced to the Indian audience the taste of survival.


Trapped(2016), by Vikramaditya Motwane, must be the first of this kind, the first survival thriller drama in Indian cinema. Shaurya, played by the very versatile Rajkumar Rao, gets locked in his newly rented apartment in Mumbai. A dead phone battery, no electricity, no neighbors, no food, and no water worsen his condition so badly that we expect him to lose any hope of coming out alive. But Shaurya goes to unbelievable lengths to survive that one can’t even imagine. The success of the film is when we are able to feel the helplessness of Shaurya as he remains trapped in his apartment for almost a week and the joy and exhaustion that he experiences after his escape.


The recently released Helen(2019) is a similar survival thriller attempt in Malayalam. While Shaurya was trapped in his desolated flat, Helen gets trapped in the freezer in her workplace. While her loving family searches relentlessly for her in every corner of Kochi, she tries to keep herself alive in that -17 degree temperature gathering all her strength. Covering herself with cardboard and plastic wrappers and feeding on the freezer food, Helen somehow tries to keep herself warm, at least for a few hours.  The sight of the dead mouse induces in her a fear of her own death, that seemed inevitable to her. In the end, the cops and her father barge into the freezer to find an unconscious Helen who is later rescued. The movie gives a glimpse of how it feels to witness death and how hope is always a very good thing.

Unfortunately, we have very few movies of this genre. We need more movies like these that reflect the essence of survival and show us how precious life is. Drop your comments below on any more survival thrillers that I missed out on!!

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