Four nasty criminals-for-hire are on their way to an assignment when they run into a young woman. Sukkha (Abhishek Banerjee), Jugnu (Rajpal Yadav), Chotta (Aaditya Gupta) and Balli (Sumit Gulati) abduct Apurva (Tara Sutaria), leaving her fiance Sidharth (Dhairya Karwa) distraught.

We know what is in store for Apurva, and we have a fair idea how she will deal with her horrific situation. Although the Hindi-language movie goes down a well-trodden path, it has a few surprises in store.

Apurva doesn’t refresh the survival thriller template as much as presents it with the appropriate elements. The Disney+ Hotstar release is in the same vein as InCar (2023), in which a woman is kidnapped by three men, but is superior in its treatment.

The new film by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, director of Brij Mohan Amar Rahe, Rasbhari and the upcoming Kill, centres on a compelling performance by Tara Sutaria. Among the other casting surprises is the comedian Rajpal Yadav as a perverse piece of work.

The maze-like, open-air prison that awaits Apurva has been vividly shot by Anshuman Mahaley. At 96 minutes, the film is correctly paced – there is just so much we can take of a woman’s mistreatment by irredeemably terrible men.

We’re not quite in I Spit on Your Grave territory. While Apurva largely avoids showing us the sexual violence that awaits its heroine, the very thought of her trapped in a remote place is chilling enough.

Yet, just because a film doesn’t lay out exploitative imagery doesn’t mean it is gender-sensitive or can escape the exploitative idea that hell awaits women, particularly young and attractive women, once they leave their homes. In this aspect at least, Apurva sticks to the playbook.

Apurva (2023).