Dwelling into a survival thriller, a genre rarely dealt with in Indian cinema, Vikramaditya Motwane explores a unique subject in his latest film Trapped. The story about a man being trapped in his own house resonates with the kind of isolation that we have created in spite of living in buzzing city. Starring Rajkummar Rao, the film that had its World Premiere at the 18th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star is drawing praise from all quarters.

As the film hits theatres today, we quizzed the director and actor duo about the pros and cons of working in a confined space, preparing for such an intense film and everything in-between.

Vikramaditya Motwane

Vikramaditya Motwane

Vikramaditya Motwane

What was the starting point for Trapped?

It was the story, which was so unusual, that clicked with me. I haven’t seen something like this anywhere and I thought it was a very unique concept. The idea that a guy is trapped in the apartment for a certain number of days with no food, water or electricity and a rat that he is petrified of, was an intriguing plot and that is why I wanted to direct it. The thing that sets this film apart is that, at its core, it has a solid story.

Is it easier or more difficult to shoot in a confined space?

It is a bit of both, I think, it was a bit easier in our case because we were following the character and our focus was on what the actor was doing and not so much about the space. Also your set eventually becomes your house; I actually enjoy shooting in a confined space, even though it is challenging for a director because the house takes on its own personality and character, but I find that very interesting.

What makes Rajkummar Rao perfect for the part?

He is such a terrific actor and I wanted someone who would be able to hold the film from the beginning to the end. I wanted someone who could hold the character well and at the same time someone who could connect to the audience and for this, I thought that Rajkummar was perfect. He has a vulnerability which does not transfer into a full-blown heroism and I think that is what works for him.

How did you help him get into the skin of the character?

Honestly, we worked on nothing besides the character, we said let’s work on Shaurya (Rajkummar’s character) the person, what he does, his likes and dislikes, his fears and so on. I did not want to do any rehearsals because then you get stuck in the preparation stage. Rajkummar is a responsible actor; he knew what had to be done, the diet and everything else was his work. He knew he had to work in isolation and withdraw into the character.

The movie was screened at MAMI (October 2016) where it received some great reviews; does that boost your confidence about the theatrical release?

Yes it does. Festival audience are niche, but they are also a great parameter to know how your film has fared because they love movies, and if the movie is well made, they will appreciate it. But at the same time, they are very unforgiving, so if they hadn’t liked the film, they would have made it known. It is a bit nerve-racking to open up to the festival audience; it is easier to go to Cannes and show your film because that is a foreign audience, but in your home country and city, the viewers will be far more judgmental. So it was a relief when the audiences at MAMI appreciated the film.

Rajkummar Rao

Rajkummar Rao

Rajkummar Rao

You’ve been an admirer of Vikramaditya Motwane’s work, how was the experience of working with him? How would you describe him as a director?

He is one of my favorite directors, I loved Udaan and I really liked Lootera and with Trapped I realized the kind of genius he is. I think he understands his films so brilliantly, he understands all the aspects of filmmaking, be it sound or editing or dealing with actors. He is definitely one of the best directors in the industry today.

Shaurya is a very difficult character to portray, how does playing such an intense character influence you on a personal level?

I used to feel very isolated (during the shoot). I would come home after the shoot and would feel very awkward coming back to this normal apartment where there is a bed. I didn’t feel like I belonged to this place and I wanted to go back to the apartment where I was subconsciously living. Also, when you don’t eat anything your body reacts in a very different way, you feel like killing someone because there is so much frustration and anger, but I used all those emotions in my performance as that was exactly what my character was going through.

So how does one mentally prepare for such a character?

By putting myself in the exact spot as Shaurya was in. When you physically give yourself a shot, your mental state automatically reacts. I was going through a major change physically so I think my mental state was also changing as per my physical changes. I was not going out or meeting people and while shooting I was consciously not talking much. I was trying to be in isolation, which helped me as an actor.

Besides working with a fantastic director, what attracted you to Trapped?

Very rarely would I come across a script like Trapped. I am sure nobody has attempted a film like this ever before. For me, I thought there was so much that I could discover and explore as an actor. I had this chance to live this life, to experience the feeling of being stuck in an apartment for three weeks without food and water. I was just blown away when I heard the idea.

Survival dramas have not been explored much in Indian cinema, does that make you apprehensive about the response to the film?  

We have received a good response to the trailer and we had a screening at the MAMI Film Festival too, where people appreciated the film, so we are hopeful and optimistic that the film will be received very well. It is a unique concept and these days our audience is open to new ideas. They want to see something different and I think it is the right time for Trapped to come out.

You have played some unconventional roles in your career, what attracts you to a role? Also any roles that are on your wish list?

If there is something challenging and exciting in the part and the story of the film as a whole, something that I haven’t heard or done before, then yes, I would go for the movie. I really don’t connect too many dots, I don’t see whether it is a commercial film or it’s independent. If I can relate to the story and it makes sense to me as an actor, I will go for the film.

Coming to what I want to do, right now I really want to explore comedy. A really wacko comedy like Andaz Apna Apna or Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro; I am a big fan of comedy.