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‘Trapped’ film review: The higher you go in this gripping drama, the closer you get to hell

Vikramaditya Motwane’s film has a superb central performance by Rajkummar Rao as a prisoner in his apartment.

Vikramaditya Motwane’s Trapped is an allegory about present-day Mumbai as well as a lesson in screenplay deconstruction. The nail-biting drama sets narrative and philosophical snares for its lead character Shaurya, pushing him towards harm’s way ever so often to see how much he, the crew, and the audience can endure.

For the bulk of the film’s 105 minutes, Shaurya navigates the equivalent of an obstacle course within the confines of the apartment in which he has been inadvertently locked. Victory is fleeting, and sparks of hope are quickly extinguished. Some of Shaurya’s tribulations could have been dispensed with in the interests of a tighter narrative, but Motwane mercilessly keeps his finger pressed to the wound, expertly evoking sighs and screams at just the right places.

Some of the snares are foretold in the sly opening sequence, in which Shaurya (Rajkummar Rao) nervously woos his colleague Noorie (Geetanjali Thapa) at the travel agency where they work. The movie title comes right in the middle of Shaurya’s victory in winning over Noorie, who is engaged to be married.


Desperate to rent a house where he can live with Noorie, Shaurya moves into a 35th-floor apartment in a building that doesn’t have municipal clearances. When Shaurya gets locked into the boxy flat with grilled windows for days without water, food or electricity, his experience demonstrates that Mumbai is indeed a concrete jungle where a trap can lie halfway between the ground and the sky. Reverse shots amply demonstrate Shaurya’s diminutiveness in comparison to the low-rises and chawls that lurk below his building, appropriately called “Swarg” (heaven).

The writing by Amit Joshi and Hardik Mehta, and Motwane’s direction, have a Lego set quality. Shaurya uses every element in the barely furnished apartment as a weapon towards his freedom. A rat drops by, pigeons flutter in, and a cockroach becomes a metaphor for life itself.

But Shaurya is mostly alone, and since he is played by Rajkummar Rao, he becomes the movie’s thumping heart. Rao’s talent has been amply demonstrated in his previous films, and it reaches its zenith with Trapped. Despite inanimate objects and mute creatures to play off against, Rao brilliantly and effortlessly transforms the location and the movie into a battlefield of emotions. Shaurya wholly earns his empathy, one doughty move at a time. Since neither director nor actor embraces melodrama and sentimental short-cuts, Shaurya becomes a striking symbol of the Mumbai resident’s struggle to rattle the invisible cage in which he is imprisoned along with millions of others.

Rajkummar Rao in Trapped.
Rajkummar Rao in Trapped.

It sometimes appears that Mumbai cannot accommodate any more residential towers and office blocks. The megapolis is a byword for cheek-by-jowl existence, and the high-rises that have been shooting through the horizon in recent years are cynical proof that when the ground is packed, the only way to grow is upwards.

Motwane brilliantly upends the idea that a sublime existence awaits those who wish to rise above the clutter. The higher Shaurya goes, the closer he gets to hell – most vividly demonstrated in the scene when he first enters his assumed paradise and takes in the view with a satisfied grin.

What he is actually seeing, and what Motwane dexterously demonstrates, is a nightmarish vision of present-day Mumbai. The city is a silent member of the cast. It gives Shaurya the power to dream, but bares its teeth from beyond the grilled windows through which he yells for help. His screams ricochet through the air, and he learns the hard way that in Mumbai, you are well and truly on your own even in the middle of a crowd.

Mumbai isn’t the only villain of the piece. Geetanjali Thapa’s Noorie is a bit of a tease, never quite returning Shaurya’s ardour in full measure and never quite shedding her share of the blame. In King Kong, it was “beauty killed the beast”. In Trapped, Shaurya’s endurance test is the result of falling in love. The big “what if” in this meticulously written and directed film isn’t “What if Shaurya hadn’t left his key in the lock?” It is “What if he hadn’t lost his heart in the first place?” The city is hell, and the Devil is disguised as a woman.

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What hospitals can do to drive entrepreneurship and enhance patient experience

Hospitals can perform better by partnering with entrepreneurs and encouraging a culture of intrapreneurship focused on customer centricity.

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Most of these tech enabled solutions have emerged as hospitals look for better ways to enhance patient experience – one of the top criteria in evaluating hospital performance. Patient experience accounts for 25% of a hospital’s Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) score as per the US government’s Centres for Medicare and Mediaid Services (CMS) programme. As a Mckinsey report says, hospitals need to break down a patient’s journey into various aspects, clinical and non-clinical, and seek ways of improving every touch point in the journey. As hospitals also need to focus on delivering quality healthcare, they are increasingly collaborating with entrepreneurs who offer such patient centric solutions or encouraging innovative intrapreneurship within the organization.

At the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott, some of the speakers from diverse industry backgrounds brought up the role of entrepreneurship in order to deliver on patient experience.

Getting the best from collaborations

Speakers such as Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and Managing Director - Medanta Hospitals, and Meena Ganesh, CEO and MD - Portea Medical, who spoke at the panel discussion on “Are we fit for the world of new consumers?”, highlighted the importance of collaborating with entrepreneurs to fill the gaps in the patient experience eco system. As Dr Trehan says, “As healthcare service providers we are too steeped in our own work. So even though we may realize there are gaps in customer experience delivery, we don’t want to get distracted from our core job, which is healthcare delivery. We would rather leave the job of filling those gaps to an outsider who can do it well.”

Meena Ganesh shares a similar view when she says that entrepreneurs offer an outsider’s fresh perspective on the existing gaps in healthcare. They are therefore better equipped to offer disruptive technology solutions that put the customer right at the center. Her own venture, Portea Medical, was born out of a need in the hitherto unaddressed area of patient experience – quality home care.

There are enough examples of hospitals that have gained significantly by partnering with or investing in such ventures. For example, the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas actively invests in tech startups to offer better care to its patients. One such startup produces sensors smaller than a grain of sand, that can be embedded in pills to alert caregivers if a medication has been taken or not. Another app delivers care givers at customers’ door step for check-ups. Providence St Joseph’s Health, that has medical centres across the U.S., has invested in a range of startups that address different patient needs – from patient feedback and wearable monitoring devices to remote video interpretation and surgical blood loss monitoring. UNC Hospital in North Carolina uses a change management platform developed by a startup in order to improve patient experience at its Emergency and Dermatology departments. The platform essentially comes with a friendly and non-intrusive way to gather patient feedback.

When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

Realizing the need to encourage new ideas among employees to enhance patient experience, many healthcare enterprises are instituting innovative strategies. Henry Ford System, for example, began a system of rewarding great employee ideas. One internal contest was around clinical applications for wearable technology. The incentive was particularly attractive – a cash prize of $ 10,000 to the winners. Not surprisingly, the employees came up with some very innovative ideas that included: a system to record mobility of acute care patients through wearable trackers, health reminder system for elderly patients and mobile game interface with activity trackers to encourage children towards exercising. The employees admitted later that the exercise was so interesting that they would have participated in it even without a cash prize incentive.

Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

  • Check-out management: Exclusive waiting rooms with TV, Internet and other facilities for patients waiting to be discharged so as to reduce space congestion and make their waiting time more comfortable.
  • Space for emotional privacy: An exclusive and friendly space for individuals and families to mourn the loss of dear ones in private.
  • Online patient organizer: A web based app that helps first time patients prepare better for their appointment by providing check lists for documents, medicines, etc to be carried and giving information regarding the hospital navigation, the consulting doctor etc.
  • Help for non-English speakers: Iconography cards to help non-English speaking patients express themselves and seek help in case of emergencies or other situations.

As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

Creating an environment conducive to innovation is the first step to bringing about innovation-driven outcomes. These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott, which is among the top 100 global innovator companies, is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the marketing team and not by the editorial staff.