Tag Archives: Mohan Agashe

Article 15 (2019)

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?)

Farq bahut kar liya, ab farq laayenge.

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!

Let’s be Indians firstly and lastly.

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.

Article 15 Trailer. YouTube.

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

Smita Patil – a powerhouse of talent

Smita Patil – a powerhouse of talent.

written by Souranath Banerjee

Numerous popular stage performances, more than 80 films in Hindi, Marathi and other regional languages, a torchbearer of the Indian parallel cinema, two National Awards as ‘best actress’, many Filmfare Awards and also the recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri – all-that in a career which spanned only over a decade as Smita Patil passed away at the young age of 31!

Smita-pic1In the early 70s Smita Patil used to be a television newscaster for Doordarshan when acclaimed filmmaker Shyam Benegal took notice of her and gave her the first role in his film Charandas Chor (1975).

Mr.Benegal who later worked with Smita in numerous other films recalled the first time he met her ‘She had a presence which I felt could be well utilised in cinema’. And indeed so.

Smita patil’s performance in Bhumika (for which she received her first National Award at the age of 21) impressed Jaya Bhaduri so much that she commented ‘makes you sit up and take notice. Her reflexes are uninhibited and she has a face with tremendous mobility’. 

A few starting scenes from Shyam Benegal’s Bhumika.

The most expressive eyes ever to have graced the celluloid; her dusky and sensuous looks and the capability to play any character (no matter how challenging) with extreme ease and perfection soon established Smita Patil as one of the most talented actress of Indian Cinema.

A scene from Mahesh Bhatt‘s precious film Arth (1982).

In the early years of her career she concentrated only on art cinema.

Along with Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri, Smita Patil formed the four essential pillars of the then popular parallel cinema.

A beautiful song sequence from the film Jait Re Jait (1977) along with Mohan Agashe

Smita Patil being an activist for women’s rights became particularly famous for her roles that portrayed women as capable and empowered.

Smita-pic2She was probably the first actress who gave the directors enough
courage to make films with female lead characters in mind, something refreshingly different from the conventional male-dominated cinema that existed in Bollywood.

In films like BhumikaUmbarthaBazaar and Mirch Masala Smita Patil’s performances were intensely appreciated both by the critics and the audience. 

A scene from Ketan Mehta‘s brilliant film Mirch Masala (1987) with Naseeruddin Shah as the notorious Subedar and Smita Patil as the daredevil Sonbai.

On the occasion of 100 years of the Indian cinema, in honor of Smita Patil a postage stamp bearing her face was released by the Indian government.

Probably the only actress who could do justice to critically acclaimed films like ChakraSadgati, Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, Ardh SatyaMandiAakroshChidambaram and on the other hand be equally comfortable with hardcore commercial films like Namak HalaalKasam Paida Karne Wale KiShakti and so on. 

In Smita Patil’s own words:

‘I remained committed to small cinema for about five years … I refused all commercial offers. Around 1977-78, the small cinema movement started picking up and they needed names. I was unceremoniously dropped from a couple of projects. This was a very subtle thing but it affected me a lot. I told myself that here I am and I have not bothered to make money. I have turned down big, commercial offers because of my commitment to small cinema and what have I got in return? If they want names I’ll make a name for myself. So I started and took whatever came my way.’

Picture curtsey: www.filmimpressions.com. 

Dr.Prakash Baba Amte – The real Hero (2014)

My Ratings: 3.7/5.

Our current society is a mirror where people can only see themselves, the more they try to perfect their reflection the more it gets distorted. A never-ending self-centered struggle, a rat race where even if you win you still remain a rat.

But of course there are a few exceptions like Dr.Prakash Baba Amte who has given his entire life for the welfare of other living beings (humans and animals).

Dr.Prakash Baba Amte – The real Hero is a biographical film made in Marathi language on the selfless lives of Dr.Prakash and his wife Manadakini.

Son of the great social worker Baba Amte who dedicatedly helped the lepers who were abandoned from their villages in the outskirts of Maharashtra, Dr.Prakash decides to carry forward his father’s intention that is to serve the poor and the helpless throughout his life.

Prakash-Amte-1So with the sole intention of helping others Prakash Amte becomes a doctor and refusing the metropolitan comforts he goes to reside in the very interior villages of Maharashtra to treat the poor tribals for free.

Dr.Prakash Baba Amte along with his wife Manadakini and a small team of dedicated people established their own 24hours open desi-clinic in Hemalkasa – a project called Lok Biradari Prakalp for the development of tribal people.

Soon he managed to establish a school for the tribal children known as the Lok Biradari Ashram.

Prakash-amte-3His heart not only bled for the humans; he also treated the injured/orphaned wild animals from the nearby jungle. Amte’s Animal Ark was built; here animals are kept in cages, fed and nursed till they recover their health. It looks like a mini zoo, as there are a variety of animals – tigers, leopards, lions, eagles, snakes, hyenas, bears you name it!

Well I can keep on writing on Dr.Prakash Amte’s achievements but lets get back to the film and discuss about how well writer/director Samrouddhi Porey has captured the essence of Prakash Amte’s eventful life.

I personally feel the time span of a bit more than 2 hours is a very less time to portray the doctor’s struggle and his achievements.

But the film indeed has done justice, not only touched the important aspects of Amte’s life but also has stressed the emotional moments with dignity. Good camera work and intelligent witty dialogues has made the film worth it.

But then again without Nana Patekar and Sonali Kulkarni’s natural performances the film wouldn’t have been half as entertaining as it is presently.

Prakash-Amte-2Nana Patekar has always been a stalwart in acting but in this film we don’t see him delivering his famous hyperactive dialogues; here he is calm and determined, matured and dependable. He proved that he indeed was the perfect choice for Dr.Amte’s role.

Mohan Agashe does his cameo as Baba Amte in the film.

A better background score could have had a more impact but overall a decent film, both entertaining and educational.

We should at least be aware of the presence of such people like Dr.Prakash Baba Amte who has the courage, dedication and determination to give their entire life for the welfare of others.

The film doesn’t make him a hero but it does share the story of a real life hero with us. I guess the film serves it’s purpose very well.