By Ridhi Suri
New Delhi (UNI) Film “Article 15” — story of an IPS officer’s new posting in Lalgaon Police Station in Hindi belt of India — shows mirror to a society entrenched in so many social evils!
Ayushmann Khurrana plays Ayan Ranjan, an IPS officer, representing the educated, idealistic, and unaware when it comes to the ‘real issues’ of the other India, may be the real one.
The film is based on Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.
While not based on one specific event, the film is inspired by multiple horrid life events including 2014 Badaun gang rape case, in which two teenage Dalit girls were gang-raped and murdered and their bodies hung from a tree; and 2016 Una flogging incident.
There is the issue of Ayan himself, an upper caste Brahmin, positioned as the saviour of the oppressed and downtrodden.
Filmmaker Anubhav Sinha, directed the film, based on the topic of Article 15, which is extensively covered in Part III of the Indian Constitution – Fundamental Rights, ‘Right to equality’.
The film might sound like a political drama but it is much more than that, it talks about caste disparities and Gruesome crime – Rape!
Initially, Ayan Ranjan loves the mystique and peacefulness of the Indian countryside and even talks to his girlfriend Aditi (Isha Talwar) about it. But the very next day of his posting, he was taken to a crime scene, where two Dalit girls, working in a local factory were found hanging from a tree and a third, from the same caste was missing for the two days.
The local police tries to dismiss the case by arresting the father of both the girls and making it a case of honour killing.
Manoj Pahwa, an upper-caste cop, who warns Ayan not to upset the existing balance (discrimination) by investigating the matter.
Studying from a very prestigious college in Delhi’s St Stephens and having lived in Europe for a while, Ayan finds it confusing to understand the societal expectations of people belonging to different castes in the village and struggles with the meaty presence of caste discrimination and inequality emerging over.
In one of the scene, an entitled bully beats up three female factory workers, who demanded a pay hike of three rupees. Asked why he beat them, he answers coolly: “Unhe unki auqaat dikhane ke liye”.
While in another scene, image of a worker, a manual scavenger emerging from a grimy and dirty open sewer, extracting lumps of waste that are blocking the drain can be seen. His face and body covered in sludge, he goes back in seconds later to complete his job.
There is a lot of talk of ‘auqaat’ and ‘jaat’ in Article 15.
Later, the case was referred to CBI but Ayan sticks to the case even after being suspended due to some false allegations. He approached the Home Minister (Shastri),who instructs him to carry on with his investigations.
Not just the local cops wanted the case to be dismissed but a Senior doctor too wanted the same. He makes a false post-morterm report, that stated — honour killing.
Thanks to a female senior assistant, who came up with the report that stated, the girls were raped for 2-3 days before being hanged.
Entangled as a crime-drama, this film is a great suspense thriller.
In the end, Ayan, finds the third girl, who comes up with all the truth, and names of those involved in rape including a senior police official. Pooja, the third girl, sets her father free from the jail after proving that it wasn’t honour killing but a planned rape.
Article 15 is impressive and poignant and must not be missed.