Article 15 / 2019
Director : Anubhav Sinha
Language : Hindi
Genre : Drama/ Thriller/Crime
Written by : Eswandy
One thing before you watch Article 15, please clear your mind from any stereotypes that are commonly associated with Bollywood films which are singing and dancing scenes throughout more than 120 minutes of the movie duration. Yes, films from India tend to be longer than usual which includes plenty of singing and dancing and this film has none of that. In fact, in recent years, Indian cinema, particularly Bollywood, has tried to move away from those stereotypes.
Article 15 is a compelling thriller loosely inspired by a gang rape case that took place in Laalgaon, the rural area of Uttar Pradesh, India in 2014 (refer
to case: Badaun Gang Rape). The story focuses on Ayan Ranjan, an innocent, young police officer who just graduated and comes from the city. He is assigned to the village of Laalgaon as the Additional Superintendent of Police and is warmly welcomed by two officers Brahmadatt Singh and Kisan Jatav who later will play important roles as the story progresses. Over there, Ayan will encounter cases that not only will open his eyes and upset his mind but also managed to shake our sanity as audiences when we have to witness tragic events through Ayan’s point of view over the ugliness of socio-economic problems, corruption, dirty politics, and caste discrimination which has always been used to determine the social status of any families based on the belief that in Laalgaon it has been regarded as the best practice to maintain the balance of society, between the poor and the rich. The thing turns from bad to worse for Ayan when there is a case of missing girls being reported and later, the two girls’ body are found hanging on a tree while one goes missing and the autopsy on the deceased bodies reveals that they were raped multiple times.
Aside from the caste discrimination issues being presented visually on screen through straightforward dialogue that throws directly to condemn the caste system, I was intrigued by the director’s good efforts of using ‘’blocking shots’’ in controlling scenes so that the audience could still pay attention to the main character or any object on the screen that the director, Anubhav wanted his audience to see. It reminds me of Memories of Murders (2003) directed by Bong Joon-ho which is also packed with good blocking shots. Blocking shots is very important because in Article 15, there are scenes that bring together many characters at one time and Anubhav needs to be sensitive in finding an effective way to guide the audience’s attention to what they should see on screen. Another aspect that Article 15 has amused me is the fact that its cinematography work in this film manages to live up to the mood of a crime thriller drama with the combination of isolated and enchanting background setting, creating a somewhat unsettling atmosphere that sits well with the genre. The same goes for the lighting and the use of colours that Anubhav consistently applied in this film which works well to create the mood of the story. I also love the musical score used here which I believe is good and one of the important elements that make Article 15 an enjoyable ride. The fact that Mangesh Dhakde, a music composer for Article 15 has won the best background award for his work in this film has further proved my point. The movie score heightens the film’s emotion, creating an aural mood for each scene, along with sound effects and dialogue and Article 15 is so good at that area. From the acting part, the main lead Ayushmann Khuranna has once again replicated his successful performance in Andhadhun (2018) which makes his character Ayan Ranjan in this film a joyful one to watch. Overall, Article 15 is one of the best crime thriller films released in 2019.
Article 15 of the Constitution of India forbids discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth and only available to citizens of India.
*This article is written based on the reflection of the writer’s own personal view and expression towards the subject matter.