Apurva tells the story of the titular girl, who was traveling by bus through Chambal to get to her fiancé, Siddharth. The couple had met through the process of arranged marriage. But, over the course of several meetings, they ended up liking each other and agreed to get married. After the engagement ceremony, Siddharth had to move to the city because of his job, thereby turning their relationship into a long-distance one for a brief period of time. Apurva decided to surprise Siddharth on his birthday. However, her journey was disrupted by a gang of goons, made up of Jugnu, Sukkha, Balli, and Chhota, who decided to not only rob the entire bus but also kidnap Apurva. Thus began her harrowing ordeal of trying to deal with these demons masquerading as humans and staying alive.
Why did Jugnu abduct Apurva?
The gang earned their money by robbing people and delivering their stash to a local politician. They were usually directed to hit a certain target, but in the case of the aforementioned bus, it boiled down to a case of road rage. The bus driver wasn’t allowing Jugnu to overtake him because it was a narrow road, and if the bus moved to the side, it would’ve lost its balance and crashed. But Jugnu was in a hurry to get past the bus, and when he failed to do so, he stopped the bus and intimidated the driver. The driver retaliated, and Jugnu and his gang slaughtered the driver and his assistant. Then, Sukkha, Balli, and Chhota proceeded to rob the passengers because they had nowhere else to go and they had expensive stuff in their pockets. Everything was going relatively smoothly, but then Sukkha noticed Apurva’s iPhone and picked up Siddharth’s call. Siddharth asked about Apurva, and Sukkha teased Siddharth, and that caused the fiancee to explode.
To teach Siddharth a lesson, Sukkha abducted Apurva with the intention of assaulting her. Balli and Chhota expressed excitement, but Jugnu wasn’t “happy” about this deviation from their plan. Sukkha said that killing the bus driver was the first detour, and so they were allowed to take another detour. And that was all that Jugnu needed to hear to allow Sukkha and the rest to assault Apurva. That said, after getting to an abandoned train bogey, Chhota knocked Apurva out because she kept resisting him. An enraged Sukkha was unhappy about it because he didn’t want to molest an unconscious woman. Jugnu ensured that Apurva was actually unconscious and wasn’t faking it and then waited outside with the others for her to regain consciousness. While going through their loot, a local astrologer and palmist, Tara, strolled into the gang’s temporary lair and was forced to stay there along with Apurva. When Apurva realized that Tara wasn’t a part of the gang and that the gang was distracted, she escaped, and so did Tara.
Did Jugnu, Sukkha, Balli, and Chhota die?
During Siddharth’s trip to the city, he met Tara, and Tara had predicted that he was about to endure a perilous time. Tara had given his phone number to Siddharth, but they never conversed again after they parted ways. When Apurva was kidnapped, Siddharth and his friend got the local police involved. Apurva’s father also arrived to convince the police officer to hurry up because time was running out for Apurva. At one point, Siddharth even kidnapped the police officer to force him to do something substantial about the search for Apurva. Amidst all this, Apurva managed to kill Chhota, and Tara got killed by Jugnu. Apurva extracted Tara’s phone and started calling Siddharth.
The fiance didn’t pick up the call because he wasn’t in the mood to talk to a palmist. When he did pick it up, he realized that it was Apurva, and she gave him a very general idea of where she was. As time passed, it became clear to Apurva that Siddharth wouldn’t be able to get to her in time, and she had to defend herself. She cornered Balli and wounded him brutally. Sukkha refused to help Balli because he tried to assault Apurva before he got the chance to do the same. Apurva used the men’s growing enmity to distract them. She made Jugnu chase her towards a deep well, and Jugnu fell into it. Apurva threw rocks at him and killed him. Then Sukkha chased Apurva all the way to a railway line. Apurva managed to throw him in front of the train. That only injured him, and during his dying moments, Sukkha kept asking Apurva to “give him a chance” at assaulting her. Apurva proceeded to kill Sukkha. At the end of Apurva, she made her way to a telephone (since she had lost Tara’s cell phone), called up Siddharth, and broke down as she realized that the brutal ordeal was finally over.
The entirety of Apurva feels like the first act of a story because this is a narrative that has been done so many times. If a filmmaker is treating the “men are bad, and women are the victims of patriarchy” theme like every other movie that has come before it, then what is the point of making the film? We all know that men are bad and women are the victims of patriarchy. Every man is complicit in the existence of this dynamic between men and women, including a male director like Nikhil Nagesh Bhat. Does he think he is doing something radical by stating the obvious? I don’t know. What I do know is that Bhat is too afraid to show what happens after Apurva’s horrendous altercation and why men like Jugnu, Sukkha, Balli, and Chhota constantly objectify women.
Bhat is probably unaware of how men like Siddharth and Apurva’s father treat a woman who has been through what Apurva has experienced. A movie like Highway has done that already, and I don’t think any Bollywood movie has gone down that route again because it’s difficult to point fingers at the villains whose villainy isn’t that obvious. That’s why Bhat resorts to age-old stereotypes and is content with simply stating that India is not a safe country for women. I hope that Bhat, or other filmmakers who are looking to exploit a woman’s trauma to issue a bland statement, learns to do better and reckons with his role in the plight of women in India. If they can’t, they can let women tell their own stories.