Feature Name: Article 15
Directed By: Anubhav Sinha
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Isha Talwar, Sayani Gupta, Kumud Mishra, Manoj Pahwa
Run Time: 130 minutes
Article 15 is based on Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. The film follows IPS officer Ayan Ranjan (Ayushmann Khurrana), whose maiden posting is in Uttar Pradesh’s Lalgoan village where caste discrimination is prevailing.
Ayan, a Brahmin by birth, is a city boy who doesn’t understand the cast division is society. He becomes an IPS only on the bequest of his father. Article 15 follows his attempts to understand the caste inequalities in the face of a gruesome crime. This crime is that of two Dalit girls being gang-raped and then hanged from a tree in the village and the disappearance of a third girl shortly after his arrival in Lalgoan.
The film is not shown as a typical Bollywood film where the cop is the hero trying to uplift the downtrodden. It shows how that politician – both Brahmin and Dalit – take advantage of the lower caste, the effects the caste system has on the law and order and people as well as how the marginalized are fighting for a better future.
The film’s opening scene of Gaura (Sayani Gupta) and others of the Dalit community singing folksy number Kahab toh lag jaayi dhak se is a hard hitting scene setting the pace for the film. This start shows how true and faithful Anubhav Sinha is toward the topics dealt with in the film. The screenwriting is on point and the use of the National Song – Vande Mataram – twice in the film will surely give you goosebumps.
The background music is what keeps you engrossed to the film. The writing by Gaurav Solanki and Sinha gives characters depth and shows that even this oppressed community have warriors and fighter – who aren’t just males.
Article 15 has strong female characters like Gaura – who is in love with political rebel Nishad (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub), Aditi (Isha Talwar) – Ayan’s journalist girlfriend, Dr. Malti (Ronjini Chakraborty) and the girls. The risk they willingly take and the support they give their male counterparts is commendable.
While there is no doubt that Ayushmann steals the show as the newly appointed IPS officer, the problems he faces because of supporting and wanting justice for the Dalit is saddening to see. He receives ‘cautionary advice’ from his second in command but with a few other officers, he is able to take on the injustice to a certain limit.
Jatav (Kumud Mishra) a Dalit whose father was a sweeper is a constable at the Lalgoan police station. The statement he makes saying that when we hear about the unjust happening around the country but never thinks it’s near us is untrue – and we can’t agree more with him.
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub has a cameo in Article 15 but even then he manages to leave a lasting impression on all.
While the film is really good with no un-necessary song and dance diverting from the pressing issues, it does feel a dark but we guess it is needed.
We give Article 15 4 stars.