Article 15 a review

A very hard hitting movie with a powerful impact and excelling in all production departments or just a good entertainer depending on the mindset of the person watching the movie.

For the uninitiated in the Indian morass of caste system it will be a very unsettling journey into the hinterlands where as the dialogue in the movie goes “ the balance in the society is sacrosanct and Article 15 which talks of equality is just that, a Article 15 of the constitution and nothing more. The movie opens with the protagonist getting out of the airport and travelling in his official car, with Bob Dylan’s song“ How many times can a man turn his head And pretend that he doesn’t see” playing in the background and then the background score suddenly shifts to a folk song with lyrics signifying the huge divide. And then onwards the rawness explodes in your face throughout its run time.

This movie can be seen from two perspectives. And by that I don’t mean the caste perspective.

1. A sensitive individual and a thinking person will see it as a very powerful presentation of the social hierarchy and it’s ills. A presentation which is neither forceful nor subtle. But rather presented as it is and as a part of the story without disturbing or distracting from the flow of the story.

2. For the socially conditioned and the urban people it is a great entertainer with all the masala and a lot of twist and turns and a little bit of suspense thrown in. At the least a one time watch. That’s one of the many different comments I heard as was exiting the theatre.

Coming back to the movie the story is loosely based on the Bedaun rapes and its investigations. The movie is blessed with a very well researched and a taut story. It’s shows how a heinous rape case can become entangled in the caste quagmire and the local politics.

The direction is good rather too good. Never a false note. The first half shows the directors vision and its execution. The second half is a bit hurried and feels crammed up with a lot of happenings but that does not take away from the overall quality. Anubhav Sinha has presented the story as it is. No exaggeration neither any watering down.

Some of the scenes look contrived. Especially the scene where the protagonist tells his 16-17 year old cook, that her brother is rapist and that he has committed suicide. And also the scene where the protagonist visits the place where dead animals are skinned.

Cinematography is the soul of this film. To show the stark reality and compose all of it in the frames is commendable work. Beautiful use of light enhances the experience. The entire movie is in monochrome and that adds to its overall darkness. It’s a visual treat watching this movie. Every frame carefully crafted and presented.

There are just two songs. The title song (which is based on folk songs) and it’s hard hitting lyrics prepare you for the visceral treat ahead. The other song is played during the ending credits and it’s a rap song. Both, two poles apart in all senses. Again a subtle play on the wide disparity.

Background score is just that a background score. It doesn’t sound interfering anytime but adds to the scene wherever required.

Ayushaman Khurana, I never liked for his acting. Always felt that he hammed a bit and used a stock of 2-3 expressions. But here he has used his body language effectively to portray his sense of anguish and the sense of urgency. And that sort of masks his weakness in the facial expressions department. He has improved on his dialogue delivery and timing. But still has a long way to go. Rest of the cast is well supported.

Sayani Gupta as Gaura is a bit of unidimensional. But that is the problem of the story. Her expressive eyes convey the characters hurt and angst. She gets into the skin of the character and captures the nuances of the character very well. Whenever she is on the screen she captures it. Manoj Pahawa as Bhramadatt is convincing as a badass police officer. Kumud Mishra as Jatav grows on you throughout the film. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub as Nishad is a revelation inspite of a small role. Akash Dabhade as Satyendra (though in a small role) is the best of the lot. He looks like he has lived that role.

One walks away from the movie with the protagonists conversation with his wife lingering in the mind, when he tells his wife , ._”that when I was in Europe people used to be fascinated about India. I used to proudly talk to them about India and invite them to see TajMahal. But after seeing the life in the countryside I don’t feel like telling them anymore.”_