ARTICLE 15, a superb crime investigation story from India in 2019. Hitting much deeper and harder than a simple (well, not so simple) investigative clue-tracer, it’s a searing challenge to the cruelty of the ancient caste system in”the World’s largest Democracy”. Written, produced and directed by Anubhav Sinha, who, along with co-scenarist Guarav Solanki crafted a socio-political drama whose outrage Sinha called one “where the audience to is an accused party”. As the lead character says “Staying neutral when a fire is raging, is standing with the ones who lit it.”
Filmed in the countryside around Lucknow, in the north-central state of Uttar Pradesh, in a village area far removed from the glories of the Taj Mahal, the story has ‘Ayan Ranjan’ (Ayushmann Khurrana), assigned to supervise a rural police department. Better educated, of the Brahmin caste, and an outsider to the area, Ranjan is serious about his job and following the law. Duty and justice looks to be loose on one hand and missing on the other from most of the men he commands: heinous crimes committed against lower caste Dalit girls are being brushed under the table. Continually stymied by the hierarchy of the caste system and attendant corruption, the conscientious new chief demands fealty to Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion, caste or birthplace. At least, it’s supposed to.
Made for around $4,100,000, with a box-office take close to $13,000,000, winning praise from reviewers, it’s an affecting viewing experience, dead on target in the direction and writing, the ensemble casting and performances, the editing and photography. A fine companion piece to recent excellent Indian dramas that task the caste issue, like Sir and The White Tiger, as well as the wrenching mini-series Delhi Crime.
130 minutes, with Manoj Pawah, Kumud Mishra, Sayani Gupta, Isha Talwar, Veen Harsh, Nassar.
“Sometimes, it feels like there is no hope, but you can’t admit it because of all the people who get their strength from you.“