When the movie Article 15 got announced and even when the trailer of the movie dropped, one thing that sort of bothered me was that whether it will end up being a semi-documentary that one will have to appreciate only for the intent. But the most appreciable thing about this movie is that you can sense a lot of quality in the filmmaking aspect of this Anubhav Sinha attempt. Powered by brilliant visuals of cinematographer Ewan Mulligan, Article 15 is pertinent and brilliant.
Ayan Ranjan, the newly appointed deputy chief of police arrives at Lalganj. On the day of his arrival itself, Ayan gets to know about the missing of some Dalit girls. The police were not actively searching for the girls and when the next day two from the three missing girls were found dead. Ayan who wasn’t aware of the dreadful divide created by the caste system decides to find what happened to the girls and he also asks his force to find the missing third girl. The movie Article 15 is about this particular investigation.
I am watching this movie now (2 weeks after its original release) and a friend of mine who was able to see the film on the time of release told me that Ayushmann Khurrana’s character sort of looked like he doesn’t belong there. Well from my personal view, knowingly or unknowingly this lack of belongingness made that a perfect thing for the movie. The film is presented through the eyes of the hero and the targeted audience of a film like this will be someone who is sitting in the comfort zone. Anubhav Sinha is sort of continuing the rage-filled storytelling he started in Mulk. There isn’t a loose phase in the script of Article 15 and one can sense the darkness in rural India through just the texture of the movie. Movies like Newton, Unda, Pariyerum Perumal, etc have tried to show us how the system and society dominate over the lower caste people and Article 15 is more of an optimistic take on that reality.
The focus of the movie is very accurate. Even that one scene where I burst out laughing was specifically saying something absolutely political. A movie like Article 15 will have the burden of answering questions like, haven’t some people survived? Shouldn’t the judgment be from a neutral perspective? Etc. And there are some hard-hitting replies for each of those questions. The script written by Sinha and Gaurav Solanki isn’t trying to be a semi-documentary. The way they plug caste into the tale was subtle. Some of the characters will bother your mind after the film. Ewan Mulligan is easily the star of the show here. His frames and the color palette can give you chills. The depth he adds to the visuals is breathtaking and the way he has used shadows is also pretty impressive. I really liked the way they infused the background score to back the intense visuals.
In Article 15, Ayushmann Khurrana is not really exploring an acting experience. Because the character is largely shown in a single tone of anger and frustration. But as I said earlier, Ayan Ranjan should have that shade of unawareness and for that matter, I would say a face like Ayushmann Khurrana is a smart choice. Isha Talwar sporadically makes an appearance as the activist partner of Ayan. Kumud Mishra as the helpless police officer who doesn’t know how to face things as he is in a perplexed state of mind was really good. Manoj Pahwa as the venomous and crooked upper-caste police officer Bhramadatt was terrific. Sayani Gupta was memorable as Gaura. Both Nassar and Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub chips in with good performances.
Article 15 doesn’t have the usual hiccups of an issue-based film. It treats itself as an intriguing and chilling thriller and in that journey, it peels off the layers of the horrendous caste system. It has the power to make someone living in the comfort zone to think about a majority who looks at freedom to live as a luxury.
Article 15 treats itself as an intriguing and chilling thriller and in that journey, it peels off the layers of the horrendous caste system.