Writer Aseem Arora probably had all the ingredients to make Malang an atypical psychological thriller as intended…if only director Mohit Suri’s execution was able to match up!
Rating – 4 / 5 ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Courtroom dramas deliver a different kind of thrill – from films like Aitraaz or Pink to even the Jolly LLBs, regardless of the premise, the thoroughly enthralling back and forth between advocates is what the audience comes for and the strength of the end result is what determines the success of the movie. Section 375 is no exception! It stirs up a deeply important question and illustrates both sides in their entireties before leaving the decision to the audience. Having said that, the film also features a performance of a lifetime by the magnetic Akshaye Khanna!
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code states that rape is considered sexual intercourse with a woman against her will and without her consent. Anjali Dhangle (Meera Chopra), a junior costume assistant to hotshot director Rohan Khurana (Rahul Bhat), accuses him for allegedly raping her. This 2-hour drama comprises an oh-so-engrossing courtroom drama between prosecutor Hiral Gandhi (Richa Chadha) and defender Tarun Suleja (Akshaye Khanna).
In one of the very first scenes, we witness Tarun Suleja giving a speech to law students, in which he says “Justice is abstract, Law is a fact”. An hour or so into the spectacle, he says “We are not in the business of justice, we are in the business of law”. These two dialogues could probably sum up Ajay Bahl’s directorial perfectly and there lies its biggest strength – the film avoids any equivocation or time-squandering. It presents a case, states the facts and gives a verdict, much like real-life scenarios. The definition of Section 375 is repeated numerous times in order to reinforce its significance to the court case – as layers peel off and more information is revealed, the only thing that remains constant is the law and in the ability to overlook it.
“ The defense will prove that this case is a classic example of a woman using, as a weapon, the very law that was made to protect her“
What’s interesting is that this Akshaye-Richa starrer follows a pattern – certain elements persist and recur so as to heavily slow down the film’s pace, allowing the audience to slowly absorb all the details. For example, Richa Chadha’s constant “Objection!” shut down by the judges’ “Overruled!” almost makes it seem as if the case isn’t moving forward at all, that is of course, until a stormy Akshaye Khanna owns the floor with a fresh perspective, fueling the fiery suspense and steering the story ahead. It probably wouldn’t be wrong to say that this film was ALL Akshaye Khanna – the defender of an accused rapist who got us rooting for him! But that’s what’s special about this particular courtroom drama – nothing is straightforward and all stereotypes are broken!
Some greatly graceful and genuine were seen – whether it was Richa’s desperation or Akshaye’s intimidation, both leads stayed 200% committed to their roles and let’s just say, nailed it! Meera Chopra was an ideal choice as Anjali and brought on a lot of conviction with her steady victim-like expressions. The same applies for Rahul Bhat, the smooth transition of his character’s arrogance and disdain to a lot more guilt and regret was striking and memorable.
On the whole, its Section 375’s insight into the real workings of a courtroom and the ‘business of law’ is what makes it stands out and definitely deserve a watch. I personally urge each and every reader of this review to not miss out on this all-consuming and highly consequential thriller!
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