Anubhav Sinha's Ayushmann Khurrana starrer Article 15 has been getting rave reviews from film critics and audiences alike.
We asked readers to send in their reviews of the hard-hitting film.
It's been a while since a movie this powerful and socially direct has been made in India.
Article 15 is a must-watch and absolutely compelling movie.
It raises an uncomfortable social question almost every couple of minutes.
The acting couldn't be better and the screenplay is top notch.
What starts out as a simple punishment posting for a IPS officer who is too Western minded, until he has learnt his lesson, turns into a gruesome murder mystery.
Just when you think the movie is about the murders, the social, religious and bureaucratic angles start playing up and mess up the entire crime scene.
What the protagonist does thereafter in the face of deception and opposition is the focus of the movie.
It is a coming of age moment for the Hindi film industry, when such an honest movie is made with an element of shock, but without the banal preaching or playing to the galleries.
It is probably the first movie that talks about the Constitution, rather than arousing nationalist or religious sentiment.
It is quiet, but direct and you want to scream your frustrations out to the screen because you get invested in the premise and the characters.
I must say the movie reminded me (in look, feel and treatment) of the 2011 Turkish movie Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolya) which is also a 'government murder procedural', and deals with similar conflicts in Turkish society.
However, this does not detract from the fact that this is a fantastic movie in its own right.
The long shots of the rural areas and night scenes which give the entire thing an eerie sense of foreboding (while the search party searches for one of the missing girls who've been brutally raped) are so well executed, that you are drawn completely into the narrative without too many words being exchanged.
It's a complete victory as far as screenplay, casting and acting is concerned (at the risk of repeating myself), simply because there is no one hero, with all the characters so fleshed out that you can empathise with each one of them on their own.
It is pointless naming one actor because all of them are heroes in their own right, but some also villains while others mute spectators, because it is a society like ours that has allowed this status quo, the worst victims of which are our children.
It has been mentioned elsewhere and I will repeat that some of the scenes will definitely be used in future acting and screenplay classes, with respect to delivery, reaction, humour and body language.
It is also a movie that will not just be reviewed but analysed in psychology and social classes.
The music, mostly in the background (there are almost no songs) serves to add to the sense of mystery and fear without being jarring.
It is impressive to see a certain degree of finesse in sound design, architecture and engineering in Hindi movies recently; sound was used very well in Tumbbad to accentuate the narrative without being the focus.
Take a bow, Anubhav Sinha, one of those few writer, director, producer souls who probably makes movies because he feels compelled to send across a social message, the nerve of such people! :)
This is not a 'different' movie or a movie with special 'treatment'.
This is responsible and heartfelt movie-making at its best, and such compelling cinema must be supported.
You will not be wasting your time watching this movie.
"We just need people to stop waiting for a hero."
As I came out of the movie hall, I was wondering why Panikar, the CBI chief, did what he did? Where did he fit in the social fabric?
Early on, when Jatav agreed to sign a false statement, why did he agree?
And in both cases, the issue is not of social standing, but of survival.
As Brahmadatt puts it -- You will go but we will remain to fend for ourselves.
The issue is not new, and neither is its depiction but what struck me most was the solution -- We just need people to stop waiting for a hero.
It's an issue that I have often struggled with.
When turning a blind eye or compromising, am I doing something unethical, against my duty, against my role, against what is fair and just, in order to survive or further my growth?
And to make it more complicated, what is my role when I see someone else doing wrong -- do I call him out or keep silent.
20 years back in FY BCom we had a subject called Foundation Course where we discussed values. Then I had asked my professor -- if I find a colleague copying in an exam, what should I do?
He mentioned to remain quiet unless someone asked you whether your colleague was copying, in which case you call him out.
"We just need people to stop waiting for a hero."
Given the scheme of things, I use my discretion considering the impact, which I feel, hence subjective, it would have.
Survival supersedes growth considerations particularly if the latter brings disrepute to a profession which that individual is meant to honour and protect.
I have wondered and continue to do so whether such acts have an impact or need to be done and now find solace in - "We just need people to stop waiting for a hero."
To describe the movie in a word.. It's Crude.
Loosely based on the Badaun rape and murder case with Article 15 of the Constitution put in it for more award winning and getting critics on their side.
Unfortunately anything which is serious has been appreciated while all other masala movies are critized.
The movie starts with Ayushman getting a 'punishment posting' because he used the words in front of the head who had powers to place him.
With his wife who pokes him on doing the right things and stand up for the society he ends up getting into the details of the caste system and how they don't eat or drink with any caste lower than them.
He is the Mr Correct who is the shahenshah of the district and takes it on him to clean the place.
He ends up getting into the Badaun rape case where all the big and powerful are involved but obviously since he is the hero he will be more powerful than them.
He ends up putting everything right in place and solves the murder case with aplomb despite all pressures from the higher authorities.
Ayushman was very good in the movie and has carried the movie on its head.
The characters beside him were all good actors with limited roles.
The movie has been well made, but too much of agenda which doesn't take the movie too far.
One tends to lose concentration after a while and it fails to grip the audience.
The movie is worth a watch and should be appreciated to bring forward a lot of agenda which we as urban class never would understand.
Wish it was a made with a little more mainstream formula and it would have rocked the box office collections too.
A brilliant story line with excellent screenplay and narration.
However as I reflect back on each of the characters, I find some characters are underdeveloped or have been hurried to their end.
But the most glaring part for me is the lack of expression of a range of emotions (anger/angst/fear/power/helplessness/disgust) from the film's lead.
It just didn't appear to me that Ayushman portrayed the internal conflicts of a young, inexperienced and mostly urban raised police officer in a hinterland.
The constant message exchanges between him and his girlfriend were a distraction to the story line, as they took you out of the context of the scene.
In short, I'd have loved to see a much lesser set of key characters in the film which are fully developed and with a more emotive Ayushman.
To me the highlight of the movie (24 hours after watching the movie) is of Manoj Pahwa's Brahmadutt character.
This still gets 4 stars from me.
Moving from a comfortable and cushioned, around the world unshackled lifestyle to a place that was downright dark and mournful, our protagonist found his light.
He shone so bright his light set the centuries old farcical caste system on fire. He used the ashes to absolve the most criminal of narcissists of their sins.
Article 15 deals with the unwelcome presence of the caste system in modern Bharat.
It exposes the uncomfortable realities that the Dalits and other 'chotti jaat' people have to live with every day.
The narrative is set in such eerie detail that the audience are compelled to reflect on the absurd and irrational nature of casteism in our country.
Ayushmann Khurana plays Ayan Ranjan, an IPS officer, who is transferred to Lalgaon in Uttar Pradesh. It does not take him long to understand the deep rooted caste divergence in the police force itself.
Ayan is constantly reminded of the caste difference by Brahmadutt, a police officer brilliantly played by Manoj Pahwa, and Jatav played by Kumud Mishra.
The locals consist heavily of low caste villagers who are too scared of the upper caste, powerful people and are constantly harassed.
The upper caste, as is true in rural India, has a stamp of authority over the lower castes and it is considered a right to remind them of their aukaat.
The film heavily relies on excellent acting, brilliant cinematography and dark, gritty background music.
It is grey and extremely uncomfortable to watch because of the depiction of facts as they are.
It hits all the right notes and has not dearth of powerful and poignant moments.
After two teenage girls are raped, murdered and hung on a tree outside the village for everyone to see and be reminded of their aukaat, Ayan takes it upon himself to fight his own reservations, system, and a whole lot of powerful people to get to the bottom of this heinous crime.
He dedicates his entire soul to find the perpetrators responsible for the gruesome murders and asks everyone, irrespective of their jaat and social standing to hold hands and look for the third girl who is missing since the murders.
He never goes overboard like the cops shown in this genre and is always composed and in control of the situation.
He manages to convince the local rebel leader, Nishad (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub) to relinquish the strike he called to retaliate against the upper caste atrocities on the lower caste people so there could be more people looking for the missing girl.
Article 15 makes a remarkable case and must be watched to understand the severity of casteism in the Indian rural setting.
It is an intense and passionate take on the searing pain that the India lower castes live with every single day.
This film made me sit and realise how comfortable my life has been and yet left a lingering mark on my conscience.
It asked questions which are so agonising and yet relevant.
A great film that our society needed to assess the damage that casteism has been afflicting and force it to make the right noise.
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