By Deven Kothari

RUKH is a first feature-length film directed by Atanu Mukherjee — an editor (Monsoon Shootout, Sujata) who made some waves with his fantastic little semi-silent short film, The Gatekeeper, as part of the 2014 anthology Shuruaat Ka Interval.

It stars Manoj Bajpayee, Adarsh Gaurav (who we saw as a brash young offender in MOM earlier this year), Smita Tamble and Kumud Mishra. The well-crafted trailer suggests a trial-by-fire, coming-of-age story of Dhruv (Gaurav), a son who seems to have lost his father Divakar (Bajpayee) in a tragic car accident. While he deals with his grief, Dhruv starts to get convinced, mostly through his interactions with his father’s old friend (Kumud Mishra), that this might have been a murky murder and not an accident. Conflict arises between his mother (Tambe) and him because of Dhruv’s fast-developing and obsessive suspicions — and the narrative seems to cross-cut flashbacks of his father’s experiences leading up to the accident with Dhruv’s “investigation” and following of some key players.

Gaurav looks perfect for the role of a son forced to grow up, determined to find the truth and justice for his dead father — in stark contrast to his first film (MOM), where he becomes one of the victims of a mother methodically exacting revenge on her daughter’s rapists. His is a complicated role, one that relies on his ability to wake up to some uncomfortable truths even as he hasn’t achieved any kind of closure for a big loss.

The mood is slightly reminiscent of one of the shorts of Humaramovie’s second anthology, Shor Se Shuruaat: the Mira Nair mentored short called Azaad (directed by Rahul Chittella), which starred Siddharth Menon as a grieving son following up with the authorities to find his missing writer-activist father (Atul Kulkarni).

Like that film, much will depend on Dhruv’s equation with his father before the incident — whether they were estranged, or close, or merely functional. The emotional heft of the film will largely depend on this bond, especially when Dhruv reminisces about him and explores his memories for clues or resolutions.

Either way, the Drishyam Films Production looks like another intriguing “indie” made by a promising director with a story to tell. It can oscillate between a quiet grief poem to a slow-burning investigative thriller to a revenge drama to an intimate coming-of-age tale. It can be all and it can be none, but the foundation seems solid enough to warrant some serious attention. We hope for the best.

RUKH releases in cinemas on October 27, 2017.