Three men in search of a sexual plaything commander a vehicle along with its driver, grab a college student off the street and make their way to their destination. As exploitation films go, InCar – the title is a clumsy pun on the Hindi word for the absence of consent – delivers the goods, in that its heroine suffers deeply so that we may react strongly.

Writer-director Harsh Warrdhan’s dark version of a road movie fully intends to wring its lead character dry and fully succeeds. By the end of her ordeal, college student Sakshi (Ritika Singh) is a bundle of nerves, as we might be too.

Recently sprung out of prison, Richie (Manish Jhanjholia), his elder brother Yash (Richie Sandeep Goyat) and their uncle (Sunil Soni) decide to pursue their horrific idea of fun. They hijack a car and its driver (Gyan Prakash) and then keep their eyes peeled for the next available young woman. Sakshi happens to in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The kidnappers are remorseless so-and-sos who offer serious competition to the folks from Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s nightmare-on-wheels S Durga. The actors who plays these exemplars of evil deserve credit for their unstinting portrayal of endless perversity.

Will Sakshi spring a surprise on her captors, who appear to have done this sort of thing before? The 106-minute InCar wants the best of both worlds: to be realistic about how a woman would reasonably react in such a situation, as well as stretch out her agony so that the viewers don’t wander off toe the popcorn stand. (Note to women: pepper sprays don’t always work.)

InCar attempts to check its inherent gratuitousness by mostly replacing graphic imagery with words. But the coarse dialogue, which repeatedly describes what awaits Sakshi, leaves nothing to the imagination. The sequences of Sakshi being manhandled are painful to watch, and wholly unnecessary.

Not for the first time has a heroine suffered so that a larger message about women’s safety may be delivered. Sakshi’s harrowing ordeal begs the dreaded question “Are we there yet?” and also leads to another inquiry: is a granular depiction of a suggested gang-rape the best way to highlight the dangers faced by women? By the end of InCar, both questions are moot.

InCar (2023).