An uncompromising story with a gravely important message, topped up with some brilliant filmography and execution! A film that needs to be watched, heard and understood in all its entirety!
Rating – 4 / 5 ⭐️⭐⭐⭐
As the title very obviously suggests, our film of the week is strongly based on Article 15 of the Indian Constitution – a fundamental right prohibiting the discrimination on grounds of race, religion, caste, sex or place or birth. Unlike other similar-themed works done in the past, Article 15 is not one of those swift, crisp, back-breaking films difficult to digest, but more of a subdued durable spectacle that gets a slow tight grip on you. Writer Gaurav Solanki, we need more films like these!
Similar to Anubhav Sinha’s last film Mulk, Article 15, too, questions an important social problem with a great deal of curiosity and disgust, particularly through the eyes of Ayan Ranjan (Ayushmann Khurrana), a high class UK-returned IPS officer who comes in as Lal Gaaon’s new in-charge. The film pivots on the gang rape and murder case of two young Dalit girls and a third one missing, and while the neglectful village police belittle the matter, calling it a case of “honour killing”, our new hero Ayan is relentless in discovering the truth and abolishing the caste system.
Article 15’s victory lies in its ‘less is more’ strategy – instead of unnecessarily boring the audience by going on about its principle idea, the film educates and reinforces its purpose via strategic instances, for example, when one of the murdered Dalit girl’s father pays a visit to Ayan’s house, he is shown to be drinking water by cupping his hands, to which Ayan questions his subordinate, “Ghar mein glass nahi hai kya?” The film also intelligently accommodates a love angle between Ayan and Aditi (Isha Talwar) and utilizes witty exchanges between the two to give rise to different perspectives within the story.
“Agar sab barabar ho gaye toh raja kaun banega?” “Raja bana na hi kyun hai?”
One of the film’s greatest strengths was its well-chosen, dependable set of actors – Ayushmann Khurana, delivering a subtle yet oh-so-strong performance with elements of curiosity, leadership and an insatiable itch for answers and an understanding as to “what the fuck is going on?”, which is exactly what he says during that semi-humorous hard-hitting scene where he is surrounded by his fellow constables as they’re trying to explain the caste system hierarchy to their confused, irritated boss! Ayushmann stays whole-heartedly committed to his role in bridging the gap between coming-of-age and orthodox outlooks on a subject so familiar yet so bizarre.
A great chunk of credit to all the fellow officers, who, from outside seemed just the same but at a closer look, exhibit minor differences in attitude and character that later add up and result in a powerful climax! Kumud Mishra and Manoj Pahwa are two examples of the antithesis in ideology portrayed through clever personality development as well as the their interactions with Ayushmann himself.
The beauty of a film like Article 15 is that it lingers around – it might not be your absolute first thought but it definitely sticks somewhere at the back of your brain, popping up every now and then, prompting you to think, reflect and be mindful of the social chaos in our country and the role we play in this vast, wild prejudice!
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