Can a film educate and enlighten as well in addition to entertaining audiences? Well, very few films manage to get this combination right. Article 15 is one such film which manages to do that and that too for a large part of it. Directed by Anubhav Sinha, it picks up newspaper headlines, spins a tale around that which is a mix of fact and fiction, is led by yet another very good performance from lead actor Ayushmann Khurranna, is supported by a technical team which delivers results like another character on screen and the end result is a heart pounding affair that sets you thinking.
That’s Article 15 for you, a serious (though not grim) film which takes you right into the interiors of the country and shows you the kind of traditions and beliefs that are still followed amongst the ‘aam junta’ even though it is 2019. Anubhav Sinha has explored the grassroots in his last release Mulk already and in Article 15, he opens up a Pandora’s box no less. He doesn’t just about the casteism prevalent in sections of the society, he talks about the cost of life, politics, law and order, overall system that has been established over the years and whether there are still hopes for any reforms whatsoever.
He narrates this story through the character played by Ayushmann Khurranna, a cop, who wonders what cast system has to really do when it comes to the life of a couple of 15 year old girls who have been gang raped and murdered. He doesn’t just face a challenge from the world outside, there is an inward conflict too that he is surrounded by, what with his team of cops dissuading him from what he believes is the right thing to do.
All of that leads to some high drama which keeps the mood tense for a large part of the narrative. So when Ayushmann and his junior Manoj Pahwa are together on the scene, you know the tension which is brewing constantly. When Kumud Mishra, another junior cop, gets in front of Ayushmann, you know that something extraordinary would happen all over again. When the villain of the piece finally makes an appearance, you do develop the kind of hatred for him which makes him a ready candidate to be shot down there and then.
However, in this gripping narrative, one just feels that the sub track of Mohd. Zeeshan Ayub, a revolutionary, could either have been more fleshed out or not included at all. There is a good build up around him but the culmination leaves you a little underwhelmed. Same holds true for the tangent of the political world which makes an intermittent appearance but isn’t as impactful as the investigative journey that Ayushmann takes.
In fact it is the whole investigation piece that is really entertaining as Ayushmann’s never-day-attitude to catch the culprit and also one more missing girl is dealt with good urgency and sensitivity. You want to be a part of his journey even as he traverses a tough road (literally and figuratively) in his quest for justice. What supports him right through is some imaginative sound design, striking cinematography and an impressive background score coupled with real locations that add gravitas to the overall narrative of Article 15.
No wonder, Ayushmann shines all over again in his first all-serious part. As a cop who doesn’t raise his hand but instead raises his standard of performing his duty, he delivers a first rate performance all over again, especially during the pre-climax where he eats up the scene in front of veteran actor Nasser. As for the other supporting actors, Kumud Mishra is excellent again, Manoj Pahwa is reliable and Sayani Gupta decent. Other supporting actors fit into their parts well.
Overall though, the film does more than just fitting in. It stands out, and takes a stand. Just for that Article 15 deserves a watch.