Ajay Bahl’s film revolving around Section 375 of IPC attempts to differentiate between will and consent
Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) states the rules and conditions concerning the crime of rape. While Bollywood and more recently web series have dealt with the topic of rape in various angles and shades, Section 375 brings in an altogether fresh perspective, something that’s not been talked about very often, at least on a visual medium. First things first, the film grips you with it’s bold narrative and straight-in-your-face cinematic language, and you leave theaters with a heavy heart wanting to just vent out on the society as a whole. Society, which you yourself are an integral part of. The perspective is fresh and you start questioning your own set of thoughts. Needless to say the film’s release is timed well amid #metoo and society also asking for a relook in rape laws wholly.
A popular and celebrated filmmaker Rohan Khurana (Rahul Bhat) is accused by a member of his crew Anjali Dangle (Meera Chopra) of having raped her at his residence. Tarun Saluja (Akshaye Khanna) fights for Khurana while Dangle finds Hiral Gandhi (Richa Chaddha) as her counsel. Their arguments in the courts heat up when they provide indisputable evidences on either sides.
Manish Gupta’s story must be hailed for the thought and interpretation by which it comes on screen. Talking about the fine line between will and consent, especially in rape cases, the films tries to clear the air by attempting to strike a conversation. Will and consent- that form the base of the film actually become the most crucial factors when it comes to judging such cases, but common man is generally unschooled about the repercussions of these factors- which the film aims to decode.
That’s not all. The thinly fine line between law and justice has been addressed effortlessly, which you see in the first and even in the last sequence.
What the makers should be credited for is that they always remain by the fence without inclining even an inch to either side. Hence, the film with this approach is interesting to watch right till the end. You don’t already know the intentions of the makers with the film keeping you constantly guessing and making you move along.
Also, the angle that ‘a person is innocent until proven guilty’ is also wonderfully portrayed within the narrative. The scenes hit you hard, like the one where Anjali is questioned by the medical examiner. You are shocked and shaken; at the same time realise how important that is. The approach in screenplay is rather slow pressing on the details given, a winning situation for this kind of a film.
What you should also note is the enactment in the courtroom drama. There have been plentiful such films already, only handful of which describe courts faithfully. In 2019, you do expect less drama in the courtroom and the makers here try their best to cater to that.
The dialogues too are sharp and crisp conveying a lot in just one line, especially the ones mouthed by Tarun Saluja. You can’t help but marvel at how shades have been brought out by masterstroke dialogues. The arguments and the counters made are to keenly observe where if you miss one line, you miss the entire essence. It is that intricate.
After the thriller Deewangi, Akshaye Khanna wears the coat of a lawyer in a hardcore courtroom drama subject and he shines in every bit. While trailers showed him supporting an accused drawing a judgement of sorts, you do find logic in his portrayal. You in fact relate to his character. It’s a job so well done that every time a new scene takes the screen, Khanna offers something new, right from the time of his introductory scene. It’s powerful.
Watch the trailer here:
Richa Chaddha, yet another fantastic actor is also in top form. As a strong headed lawyer, there are scenes when she outclasses all others in the frame. It’s a case of exemplary casting, you must say. She brings in a sensibility within the narrative where her feminine say becomes extremely important for the story. Given the genius actress she is, she even lifts the scenes which are otherwise quite average.
Meera Chopra has performed supremely well as the case’s victim. You feel for her when it’s needed. You move away when that’s the required move. Rahul Bhat is also very good as the accused in the case. Like Chopra, he also has shades and he performs skillfully.
Kishore Kadam and Krutika Desai as the judges in the case have done a reasonably decent job. Shriswara also in a brief role leaves an indelible impression. Her role actually needed more detailing as far as writing is concerned. Sandhya Mridul has a small role but she has a charming quality in her character and whenever she comes, you have a smile on your face.
Background score by Clinton Cerejo is a major boost in the film. The film includes a lot of ideological twists keeping the audience objective, and at all such times, the score sets the mood rightly.
Sudhir Chaudhary’s camera, in most runtime of the film, is inside the courtroom, yet manages to engage you visually. Also during the other portions, it conveys the notions well by playing symbolically. Production design by Nilesh Wagh is smart, keeping the film visually engaging. You relate to the situation well also because sets are fine and right. The lighting too is smart.
Editing by Praveen Angre is outrightly razor sharp. The film has a thrilling quality inherently and always keep you highly invested, all throughout. You eagerly wait for scenes to unfold and by the time you reach climax, you’ve had an enthralling journey already. Editing helps all of this to hit you.
It is a film that wrenches you, shows you the mirror. It is film that makes you think. No wonder if you are also left confused on what to think of the film. It is a film that will make you want to discuss it wide and loud. And it is a film that entertains. Your world turns upside down. Law and justice. Will and consent. Terms that define this film. After critically acclaimed BA Pass, Bahl gives you a film that is not only contemporary but also rooted in the sensibilities of the society.