Anubhav Sinha’s nationalistic film on granting equality to all citizens of the country is just what is needed to inculcate the sentiments of nationhood
Is this the same man who once gave us Ra.One and Dus? When last year Sinha made Mulk, the audiences were pleasantly surprised by his ability. He yet again follows it up brilliantly with Article 15, a film that shakes you, awakens you, makes you think about your existence, humanity, the society you live in, the words that you don’t speak when you actually should, and above all that one thing that binds us all into one nationhood. How do you then review a film who’s made with such positive intention provoking a thought in almost every scene?
Taking inspirations from real life rape and murder cases, the story revolves around Ayan Ranjan (Ayushman Khurana), a police officer who hails from an urban lifestyle. He is transferred to a rural town where along with his internal struggles of coming to terms with the changed culture, he has to investigate a case of three missing girls, which has a lot more to it than what is seen.
Written by Gaurav Solanki and Sinha himself, the plot is not only gripping but also heart wrenching. One thing that shakes you the most- it’s 2019 and still such incidents happen so rampantly. The film in its simplest approach hits your hard right at the start when an officer goes out to investigate the case. While the trailers were grueling enough, as and how the story progresses and the layers begin to unfold, you keep getting shocks after shocks.
Where the makers have hit the bull’s eye is the crafting of scenes. Carved as an investigative thriller, it’s a near perfect direction where not much is said in the form of dialogues, but it not only hits you as viewers, but also the system overall. Right from the first scene, you’ll be in for a disgust and would want the appalling atrocities against the minorities to stop. Mind you, this will also be the time where you would not frown on them taking away your seats in college and jobs. That said, it still is a very different issue.
The story is interesting, the screenplay is mesmerizing. What you watch in the form of a story of helplessness and brutal tortures seems so real that you remain in a zone even after walking out of the theaters. The film in its entire run time scores majorly on the aura it creates- thrill, darkness, and grim atmosphere. Some visuals give you goosebumps and you are left horrified. The socio-political and cultural elements woven into the screenplay make it a very comprehensive and real film. Of course the pace isn’t very brisk, which may upset a section of the audience.
The makers also excel in the portrayal of the protagonist- the dedicated police officer. Its not just the case he is solving, it’s also an identity crisis for him, a cultural and spatial shift which he needs to get over with in his mind. The method directly aims at conveying a message that change is possible not just by countrymen alone but more through the people who are within the system willing to safeguard the interests of the constitution.
It’s not a light and casual watch. With constant palpable tension present, the film also requires you to be mature viewers. The immensely sharp direction also involves symbols and connotations, hitting out broadly at the system.
Ayushman Khurana proves why is he considered one of the most promising actors of the industry. He successfully maintains his strong position after Andhadhun and Badhaai Ho with this one, where he has stuck to his part with firm grit. There is a simple scene (shown even in trailers) where he talks about 2 sips of mineral water that his senior officer is sipping from his glass. A simple scene, but Khurana’s eyes and face take it to an all new level. He is just superb. With his upright body language, he gives you no scope to point at his acting.
Kumud Mishra and Manoj Pahwa- both tremendously skillful actors even in their brief respective roles have remarkably lifted the plot to a good extent. Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub in a small supporting role is very good and lends able strength to the narrative. It is also because of these three that the film has a holistic appeal. Nassar is fine, could be better. He suits the role but he could do so much more.
Isha Talwar is just okay. She has a couple of scenes but suffers majorly because she isn’t given a role to vouch for. Her role is primarily positioned as a moral subconscious support. Sayani Gupta is amazing. She says it all through her face and she leaves a mark that makes your throats choke.
The score very much suits the feel of the film and also aid in taking the story forward. The background score by Mangesh Dhakde is too good to adore. The overall gloomy mood of the film where the parts hit you straight, slap you on your face, and those which wrench you have been made possible through smart use of score.
Cinematography by Ewan Mulligan is magnificent to say the least. The visual appeal of the film haunts you long after you’ve watched the film. The camera creates a terrifying and disgusting yet entertaining aura and also in between gives you some symbolic shots (during the inclusion of drainage overflowing in the police station or the angle of swamp in the script), accentuating the flavour of the film. Hand in hand goes the production design where the sets are so real that you feel you are referring to a document. The visual richness in the film is grand and rooted with the tonality of the film.
Editing by Yasha Ramchandani makes the film move fast. Things keep happening at brisk movements where so much is on offer for you to absorb. The narrative flow- from the first scene to the one where the film ends, it takes a worthwhile arc and you enjoy every bit of it.
Let’s be Indians- Firstly and Lastly. The film says this in its tagline. There lies a difference between patriotism and nationalism. This is a classic example of a nationalistic film where all what the film expects you to do is develop a feeling of belonging for the nation and think of it’s people as one, without the uncalled discrimination. Anubhav Sinha gives you a film that’s not only made with correct sensibility and intention, but also aims to have larger implications on the society as a whole. Whether or not will it change anything in the society even at the minutest level, that’s up to the people who make the society, who make the nation. But this is one film you must watch, no matter what.