Article 15 Review
written by Souranath Banerjee
The most significant Indian Cinema of the last few decades!
My Ratings: 4.3/5
1949. Let us begin from the very beginning. A quick recap.
‘… shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of race, religion, caste, sex and place of birth.’ – Indian Constitution. Dr.Babasaheb Ambedkar. Fundamental Rights. Right to Equality. Article 15.
Fast-forward to 2014. Badaun gang rape allegations – a true incident that happened at Budaun district, Uttar Pradesh; two teenage girls went missing and the following morning they were found hanging from a tree. It was a case of gang rape and murder, which both the local police and the CBI tried their best to cover up. Why? Because the murdered girls were poor and belonged to the Dalit community (the untouchables). And the murderers were from the Upper-Class, the rich and the influential.
The film Article 15 directed by Anubhav Sinha (of Mulk fame) is based on the above mentioned tragedy. The movie also takes inspiration from a number of other incidents from across India where people are being humiliated on a daily basis, condemned and tortured, and denied justice just because they belong to a particular caste.
“Agar sab barabar ho jaayenge toh raja kaun banega?” (If we all become equal, then who will be the king?)
Ayushmann Khurrana (who has mastered the art of choosing great scripts) does a fabulous job portraying the man who is desperate to change the system by being a part of the system. Thankfully not portrayed as an outsider, otherwise the script shouldn’t have worked so well. Kumud Mishra, Ashish Verma – both play pivotal roles and plays them to perfection. Sayani Gupta and Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, though having limited screen time still manages to make an impact on the audience.
But Manoj Pahwa is the man who grabs the spotlight; his performance as the corrupt cop eager to derail the case is an absolute delight to watch!
Special mention to Ewan Mulligan’s cinematography which brilliantly escalates the suspense and also gives the film the much needed feel of reality. Music by Mangesh Dhakde is so well balanced, just enough to maintain the intensity of the film.
Since Satyajit Ray‘s exquisite drama Sadgati (1981) starring Om Puri, Smita Patil and Mohan Agashe, hardly any other filmmaker have attempted to touch the sensitive subject of Caste-discrimination. And thus Article 15, a superbly directed social-thriller by Anubhav Sinha is surely the most significant Indian Cinema of the last few decades!
A film that dares to shed light over the sinister shadows of our civilisation, on the darkness that a nation unanimously prefers to ignore, on a curse that have been burning human lives for generations. Someone needs to put out the fire that torches the innocents, someone must heal the wounds, and put an end to this vintage shame. Someone must help us regain our faith in humanity!
But as Article 15 effectively points out – the real problem is that we are still waiting for that ‘someone’.
That someone needs to be Us.
P.S. According to the study of NCRB data on Caste Discrimination in India, the atrocities committed against SC and ST women are disturbingly high; statistics of the year 2016 alone shows 2541 rapes and 786 murders. That too, only half of these crimes are said to be officially reported.
Poster courtesy: www.imdb.com