Before Article 15, I guess the last Hindi movie that I truly loved – from the storyline to characterisation is Lunch Box starring the late Irrfan Khan. Of course, there were other Hindi movies that I had watched in between and before that will make a place in my list of must-watch Hindi movies. Image source: IMDB
I watched Article 15 on Netflix recently and that blew my mind away – now I am very interested to check Anubhav Sinha’s other movies (looking forward to watching Mulk soon). Anubhav Sinha was also the director behind Shah Rukh’s Ra One which was an interesting take on AI and robotics.
The Plot Based On True Story
Just view this screengrab from the movie Article 15 and you cannot deny the urge to keep quiet and watch till the end of the movie. Who hanged the 2 innocent girls and can the police catch the killers before it is too late? More importantly, there is another girl missing and time is running out for her. Image source: Zee Music
Recondensed from Wikipedia:-
In the village of Laalgaon, three Dalit girls goes missing and later two of them found to be dead, hung from a tree and the death is blamed on their fathers who alleged did honour killing. The third girl is missing.
ASP Ayan Ranjan is assigned to Laalgaon is warmly welcomed by his new officers Brahmadatt Singh and Kisan Jatav. Ayan encounters various forms of caste discrimination as soon as he arrives in the village, and periodically shares what he observes to his wife, Aditi, over the phone.
Local villagers come to Ayan’s reception asking the officers to find the missing girls, but are turned down. Ayan reunites with his college friend Satyendra Rai, who behaves suspiciously throughout the night.
Ayan orders Brahmadatt to file a FIR and to obtain the postmortem report for the deceased girls. The girls’ autopsy yields evidence that they were gang raped, but Brahmadatt prevents the release of this information and instead pushes a narrative suggesting that the girls, who were cousins, were intimate and thus hanged by their fathers in an honour killing.
Meanwhile, Jatav and a junior officer are threatened and their vehicle set on fire by followers of Nishaad, the leader of a group of activists within the village who seek speedy justice for the crime. Ayan questions Jatav about this the next day and becomes determined to solve the case
Strong, Powerful Main Characters
Unlike the usual masala Hindi police story, immediately I sensed that this one will be different, watching the first few scenes from Article 15. Image source: Indian Express.
For start, we have Ayushmann Khurrana as the cool, strict ASP Ayan Ranjan. He does not display his six-pack or fight with 12 other men without a single hit to himself. Nothing of that nonsense happens here. But instead, the filmmakers stick to proper standard police investigations which make this movie to stand out from others.
Manoj Pahwa who acts as the seasoned officer Bhramadutt Singh acted well to do the double role in the movie. He has a sinister motive from the start and often discourages Ayan from continuing with his investigations. Bhramadutt continues to create false lead and pieces of evidence and even gets one of the doctors to prepare a false post mortem report.
The well-known actor, Nassar only comes in the end and hardly makes any impact on the storyline. It is a shame because Nassar is a very good actor but his talents seem to be wasted here. Perhaps he should have taken the role of Bhramadutt Singh but then again Manoj Pahwa has done this role really well.
Article 15 of Indian’s Constitution
The provisions under Article 15 states the following:-
It prohibits the state from discriminating against a citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth.
Article 15 (2)
Article 15(2) elaborates that no Indian citizen can be discriminated against on basis of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth. It states that no citizen shall be denied access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and palaces of public entertainment.
It also adds that no citizen shall be subject to any disability, liability, restriction or condition with the use of wells, tanks, bathing ghats, roads and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly out of State funds or dedicated to the use of the general public.
Article 15 (3) and (4)
The Article also states that the article cannot be used as an argument to make special provisions for women, children or any other backward classes.
“Nothing in this article or in clause ( 2 ) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes,” the article states.
Article 15 (5)
An amendment was made in the article in 2018 after the government announced 10% reservation in colleges and universities for economically weaker sections.
It states, “Nothing in this article or in sub-clause (g) of clause (1) of article 19 shall prevent the State from making any special provision, by law, for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes in so far as such special provisions relate to their admission to educational institutions including private educational institutions, whether aided or unaided by the State, other than the minority educational institutions referred to in clause (1) of article 30.]”
Interestingly this was drafted and enshrined in the Indian Constitution of 1949 and applies to Indian citizens.
Visual Treat Cinematography
Adding to a great storyline and acting, Article 15 boasts a great visual treat from Ewan Mulligan, a UK based cinematographer.
Firstpost did a very interesting interview with Ewan to understand the rationale and the creative planning that went into the production.
You have shot the film mostly in early hours of morning and evening. Why was that important?
Those 40 minutes before sunrise and after sunset are very mysterious — there’s a sense of unreality about it, of being caught between two worlds.
I felt it would be apt to have these characters — who have been told since they were born that they don’t belong in what the rest of us call ‘society’ — live in a world constantly on the edge of something, in this case daylight always about to drop off into the dark.
Conversely, I thought it would be ironic and dramatically useful to have the characters who profit from this system to be bathed in bright sunlight.
Read further the interview and you will surely want to watch the movie all over again, just to savour on the visual treat.
It is not a big surprise that this movie won a series of awards namely Critics Award for Best Film, Best Actor and Best Story in the 2020 Filmfare Awards and Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Story in the 2019 Screen Awards.
It is even rated above 8 in IMDB which speaks for the quality of this movie from all aspect.
It is mentioned somewhere that there are plans to remake this excellent movie in Tamil which would be an interesting treat for the Tamil viewers (if they have not caught the original in Hindi). Just hope they don’t screw up as they did for 3 Idiots.