Article 15 comes under Part III in the Constitution of India, which deals with the fundamental rights of the citizens of India. It also states that the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of caste, religion, sex, race, and place of birth.
Based on the Budaun gang rape case of 2014, it brings to light the socio-political status and deep-rooted casteism in countryside India. Director Anubhav Sinha sets all the uncomfortable questions on the table and compels us to rethink the system with his sharp and raw storyline.
Ayan Ranjan, IPS played by Ayushmann Khurana, newly posted in the fictional town of Lalgaon, Uttar Pradesh. Unfamiliar with the rural setting, the entrenched caste system and the nonchalance of the police towards the lower castes, come as a rude shock to him. Isha Talwar’s Aditi is a human rights activist, who urges Ayan on to seek for the truth in spite of the risk it may pose for his life.
Gaura (played by Sayani Gupta) is a Dalit woman who wishes to file a missing report about three girls from the village but is left unheard merely because the police cannot concern themselves with the problems of the lower caste. The story unfolds amidst the thick web of caste politics, corruption and power play as two of the missing girls are found hanged and on further investigation, reported to be brutally raped.
Ayan, over the course of the first half of the film, awakens to the gruesome reality of the situation while his colleagues, soaked in corruption attempt to close the case as fast as possible. Nishad (in a pleasant cameo Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub Khan) is a Dalit revolutionary attempting to fight the caste system with protests and strikes.
The film does not give s a hero and clearly projects the message that one person cannot take over the system. It is a vicious cycle of fear, of power, of loose morals and of failing to acknowledge the most important issues openly and proves that it is unrealistic to wait for change to happen itself. Scenes depicting revolting casteism litter the movie as you are introduced to a whole new hierarchy of castes. The film very gently touches upon the moral conflict of both the activist and the criminal. It also depicts the frantic urge, of the people feeding off the system, to escape when they are close to being caught. Every scene is gripping, every frame giving you a direct view into the rotting belly of the monster itself.
The film is beyond the flawless acting on all parts and masterfully realistic scenes. It is an insight into our world and makes us realize that these vices that appear so distant in newspapers, are all around us.
The line from the film, “Hero nahi chahiye, bas aise log chahiye jo hero ka wait na kare” hits hard as we realize that we too are looking for such people around us or maybe even within ourselves.
While this movie provided us with an outside perspective of the caste system and other crimes, many are still waiting for one that brings all these to light from the viewpoint of the actual victims. Overall this film was a much-needed dose of reality, a product of patient and sensitive filmmaking and another mirror for everyone to reflect upon.