Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15 has a darker setting than the premise and it easily captures your attention to give a ride full of suspense of a crime in a politically diversified village where there is a constant fight between the predetermined upper and lower castes of the country.
The film’s story is mostly based on the Badaun Rape Case, were two eight-years-old cousin sisters were raped and hanged from the tree. Ayushmann Khurana as IPS officer Ayan is transferred to a fictional district Lal Gaon in Uttar Pradesh where the mornings are foggy and dim and the lives of the people living in it are much darker than the night. People in this district are quite determined to follow each and every rule laid down by their ancestors. Besides the two dead bodies of Dalit cousins, there is one more girl that is missing, Ayan starts his own journey to find the third girl and the perpetrators of such heinous crime, even in conditions which force him to stop his investigation. And thus begins a fight between the strong will of an outsider who is defiant and determined to do his job and the people who are equally determined to follow the pre-established rules of the caste system, who wins and how? is the story all about.
What will really connect you to the feelings of the protagonist is the believable origin of the character which is like you and me, an outsider who first thinks village to be beautiful by seeing the green fields and remarks that all the oxygen of Delhi comes to the village by feeling the air. But some moments later, he gets the real taste of the air in the village. A bit like Delhi Crime, it shows us the varied complexities of a police procedure of criminal investigation rather than approaching over the top crime bureau investigation process , in fact, it mocks such procedure. The tension is always building up with horrifying sound editing, even at places where they don’t need to be and the pace of the movie falters a bit in the first half but regains what was lost in the second half of the movie.
The film really raises some good questions in the conversations between the two couples of the movie. First being the one in which Ayan in a way asks Aditi about whether there is a need of a hero or a superhero, to which she replies that “We don’t need a hero but just someone who doesn’t wait for the arrival of hero” this single dialogue changes the outlook of Ayan’s character towards the problems ahead of him. Later in the movie, we see him fearlessly leading the case without paying any heed to the constant peer pressure of stopping and he even starts crossing the deep muddy water when the police and other men lost their initial strength to do so. Then the one in which Nishad (Mohammed Ayyub) as a rebellious leader and a fighting face for the lower caste, is meeting Pooja (Sayani Gupta) for the last time before he escapes. The conversation is philosophical and makes you think about the people who are actually spending their whole life just to get past this rigid caste system and its beliefs. Nishad in this scene says some remarkable dialogues one of them goes like “ Kabhi Kabhi koi ummed dikhayi nahi deti hai, fir aaspass dekhta hu ki tumse ummed lagaye baithe hai…”
Sayani Gupta acted phenomenally, she doesn't speaks much but grabs your attention through her eyes and strong acting skills. Kumud Mishra and Manoj Pahwa were like icing on the cake for the acting department. Ayushmann Khurana is as usual the best in business. The background score is convincing but as mentioned before at some places it doesn't align with the pace and situation of the movie. Dialogues like “ Border pe maarne wale jawano ke liye toh sab shokh mannate hai par gutter mein marne walon jawano ke liye koi nahi. ” really shows the brilliant work done on the scripting of the movie. Cinematography by Ewan Mulligan is as terrific as it was in Mulk which is made by the same director-cinematographer combo.
Overall, this movie is a true gem among the category of political-crime drama.
FINAL VERDICT - 3.5 / 5.