Director: Anubhav Sinha
Starring: Ayushmann Khurrana, Sayani Gupta, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Manoj Pahwa, Kumud Mishra
Written by: Anubhav Sinha, Gaurav Solanki
ARTICLE 15 is the story of a caste related crime where the film brings into light the much ignored Article 15 of the Indian constitution which states that no Indian can be discriminated on the basis of their religion, race, sex, caste, or even their place of birth. The film’s protagonist is Ayan Ranjan (Ayushmann Khurrana)an IPS officer from Delhi who has been transferred to a village named Lalgaon in Uttar Pradesh as punishment posting. As soon as he joins, he slowly learns about the caste based discrimination that is happening in that region which in a way breaks the bubble that he maybe living in. His first case after being posted there is about the three missing girls from Dailt community. The cops don’t take it seriously and don’t even file an FIR citing that they often lie about it and people who run away eventually come back. But in the coming days, the bodies of two out of the three missing women are found and that’s when things get ugly. The third girl is still missing. One of the girls from the community Gaura (Sayani Gupta) tells Ayan that these three girls used to work under the local contractor Anshu who used to pay them Rs. 25 per day. The girls then asked for a raise of just Rs. 3 but it was rejected by Anshu. Hence, they protested and left work. Gaura alleges that Anshu possibly violated the girls to teach them a lesson. Upon investigating the matter Ayan realizes that Gaura is right. But officer Brahmdutt Singh (Manoj Pahwa), working under Ayan, secretly tries to change the narrative of the crime. He plants a story in a newspaper that both the girls were in a same-sex relationship and that’s why their fathers killed them, making it an honour killing and not a caste related crime. He also forces Dr. Malti Ram (Ronjini Chakraborty) to change the post mortem report, although it’s clear that Shalu and Mamta had been repeatedly gang raped. While all this is happening, Ayan is on the trail to find the missing girl but he is met with a deep swamp which the other upper caste officers refuse to go in and the other lower caste citizens are on a strike lead by a Dalit underground leader Nishant (Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub). What happens next forms the rest of the film.
ARTICLE 15 tries to bring a strong message with the film and it does manage to convey the message quite clearly and if anything it hammers it into your brain and making you realize that how even in some parts of the Indian society the caste based discrimination is still happening. But this the film manages to do due to mainly the visual treatment. The story also has its flaw as well. There seems to be a lot happening in the story at the same time. Things lose their impact because there is so much happening in the film especially in the second half of the film. Length is also an issue with the film, with a runtime of just over 2:30 hours the movie can get a tad bit tedious. The film hits you but then it doesn’t hit you as hard as the makers may have intended to.
Technically, the film is decent. Cinematography by Ewan Mulliganis great and a few scenes are shot brilliantly. Editing by Yasha Ramchandani is okay. The film could have been edited better and could be at least 15-20 mins shorter that it was. The production design was good and so was the costume design. The background music is good but in a few scenes it seemed quite over the top and in a few scenes it could have been avoided completely and used silence to enhance the scenes. There is no scope for music in the film.
Performances from the actors were great as well. Ayushmann Khurrana is in a top form. He is superb and shows a new facet of his acting prowess in this one. Manoj Pahwa is great and impresses with his performance. Kumud Mishra gives an honest performance and is impressive as well. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub does well in his limited role. Sayani Gupta is quite good as well. Isha Talwar (Aditi) who plays the role of Ayan’s wife in the film is good as well, although her character doesn’t have much to offer.
Director Anubhav Sinha does a decent job of such a sensitive topic. But then again a lot is happening in the film and one gets confused and it seems like quite a mess and he isn’t able to quite un-mess it.
At the box-office
The film has taken a good start and given its limited budget will keep its investors more than happy.