Claustrophobic and atmospheric, Bharat Bhushan Nethi’s ‘Deep Inside’ takes a familiar concept and spins it on its head, resulting in a thriller that is engrossing from beginning to end. The film’s protagonist Vishal Bhatia is like any other bachelor out there, spending his evenings partying out with friends. However, an argument in a club spirals out of control, and Vishal finds himself trapped in a box beneath the ground later that evening, unable to get out. As he employs the few things that he has in his pocket to survive this shocking ordeal, Vishal must contend with the terrifying possibility that he may not survive. As this game of nerves continues, Vishal will have to contact both estranged friends and former lovers to find a way out before the oxygen runs out.
The first thing that is noticeable about ‘Deep Inside’ is that there are quite a few twists and turns in the story. With red herrings effectively employed, the audience keeps guessing where the story will head to next throughout the runtime of the film. As the creeping confines of the box mess with his mind, Vishal will doubt everyone from his own younger brother to his closest friend. With his mind desperately searching for a plausible reason for this scenario, Vishal finds himself doubting reality itself, descending into a crescendo of considering one outlandish scenario from another, eventually finding himself on the brink of giving up altogether. The direction by Bharat Bhushan Nethi is perfectly in sync with the atmospheric tone of the film. Nethi knows his story is the psychological and mental torment of the protagonist, and he refrains from any distractive detours that may take the audience out of this character study. The camera is trapped inside the box with Vishal, noting and conveying his every nervous move to the audience, hoping to transmit the uneasiness and decaying mental state of the protagonist to the audience.
Although the film drags out at several moments which could have benefitted from tighter editing, it does manage to convey the claustrophobia of being trapped in a box perfectly. Akin to dragging Andy Dusfrene through the mud in Shawshank Redemption, Vishal Bhatia is put through the grinder as he attempts to decipher who exactly has left him in this box to die. The film’s overarching message is subtle yet poignant; the boundaries that we find ourselves limited by are often made by our own selves, and the best way to break free from such shackles is to remain calm, clear our heads and do our best. As Vishal learns to accept the reality of the predicament he finds himself in, he realizes his past transgressions and vows to fix himself if he gets a chance to get out.