By Shane Alliew
Running at 130 minutes, Article 15, is another hard-hitting film from director Anubhav Sinha (Mulk, 2018), this time challenging the ethos of casteism which is embedded in the fabric of the Indian society, running far deep and wide than what one can ever imagine.
Ayan Ranjan (Ayushmann Khurrana), an IPS officer, has been posted to Laalgaon as the deputy-chief of district where he is warmly welcomed by his officers Bhramadatt Singh (Manoj Pahwa) and Jatav (Kumund Mishra) who not only introduce him to the other members of their team but also to the most important pillar of their society, reminding him to maintain the status quo of the region – the caste differences.
Urban educated Ayan, finds this disturbing and hopes to get things sorted out in due course of time, yet the next day itself he is dragged into the case which would take him and the entire region of Laalgoan into a tumultuous vortex of action.
Two teenaged girls are found hanging from a tree – the story being that the cousins were in an illicit relationship and their fathers drove them to commit suicide, on the pretext of honor killing. When the investigations begin, layer after layer of deceit, frustration, corruption and bent cops are unraveled bit by bit. All at the heart of which lies the very fact that these girls had stood up against a politically-supported contractor, who refused to raise the wages of the construction workers from 25 rupees to 28 rupees a day – a mere 3 rupees.
The plot of Article 15 is thrilling and action-packed, and Sinha did complete justice in keeping the film tight-packed at 130 minutes, focusing on the single issue which even after 70 odd years of independence is rotting away the Indian society’s fabric. The sidelines do not erode away the central focus of the film, unlike several other serious issue-based ones.
Sinha hits out hard and therein Article 15 rises above the hoi polloi – it has a message to convey and does so with great conviction, making us squirm in our seats, demanding our consciences to awake, arise and slumber not – a clarion call once given by Tagore the Nobel laureate.
The vital question, however remains, what happens after this? Several films based on socio-economic issues hit the silver screen, rake in the moolah (budgeted at 310 million rupees – the film has already made 900 million rupees) and benefit the private individuals. We, the audience – almost said, We, the People of India – clap, applause, sigh, rave and rant and then forget everything, throwing in the towel, that the system, will never change.
In the meanwhile – awake your conscience, see what would you like to do – at least go watch Article 15 and educate yourself of what is it all about.