“LIVE OR DIE”!! Indian Cinema and Survival thriller
What does happiness mean to you? A good job, successful relationship, materialistic things? Has it ever occurred to you that happiness can be something as simple as just being alive? Yes, have you ever got excited about the fact that you are alive? We often fail to appreciate our very existence, every notion of survival.
Sometimes, just two hours of visual bliss can make us realize how invaluable we are and embrace and celebrate every moment of our lives with immense gratitude and love. I’m talking about survival thrillers. They are not merely a genre of films but 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 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 worthy of comparison in this genre. However, we can never forget the rare few movies that introduced the Indian audience to the world of survival thrillers.
Trapped (2016), by Vikramaditya Motwane, must be the first of this kind survival thriller drama in Indian cinema. Shaurya, played by the very versatile Rajkumar Rao, gets locked in his newly rented apartment in Mumbai. A phone with zero charge, no electricity, no neighbors, no food, and no water worsens his condition so badly that we expect him to lose any hope of coming out of the apartment alive. But Shaurya goes to unbelievable lengths to survive that one can’t even imagine. The success of the film is when we can 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 Malayalam movie Helen (2019) is a similar survival thriller attempt in Malayalam. While Shaurya was trapped in his desolate flat, Helen gets trapped in the freezer of the restaurant she works. While her concerned family searches relentlessly for her in every corner of Kochi, she tries to keep herself alive in that -17-degree temperature mustering 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 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 why hope is always a good thing.
Unfortunately, Indian cinema has 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. Let us hope for more Indian survival thrillers in the future that excite and entertain us.
Do share your thoughts on survival thrillers in the comment section.
Image Courtesy: YouTube