“Yeh in logon ka roz ka hai… koi inke haath se na khata hai na toh inki parchhai khud par padne deta hai…”
“These people complain everyday…no one receives anything from them nor respects even their shadow…”
These are some words emanating from a democratic nation that teaches equality barring one’s background.
Anubhav Sinha’s “Article 15” fires off an inquiry into the social reality of a so-called constitution-abiding nation like India.
Set in a rural backdrop of Laalgaon, Sinha starts off the portrayal of modern and secular India from a place where most of its populace resides. This is a great way to deviate from the textbooks and present the hard-hitting reality of a caste-driven society. The shift takes place in the form of Ayan Ranjan’s character, played by Ayushmann Khurrana, who takes immense pride in how his homeland appears to the outside world, but soon understands how much of a change needs to be made.
As soon as he hears of three girls missing from the village, he sets himself on a visceral journey of self-realization. As an IPS officer, he recognizes his and his crew’s responsibility, and regards the case as one of probable murder and an entire criminal setup attached to it.
Before he could go on with further investigation, his coworkers ask him to evade the complaints of girls’ families as they are the “others.” They are ragpickers, they are scavengers, they are the lower, the scheduled castes, the other backward castes. The ‘social balance’ that Ayan’s driver talks about sums up a deep loophole in the democratic status quo.
In other words, the Vedas have created various castes/groups assigning each a set of tasks that need to be performed on daily basis in order to maintain a ‘social balance.’ Factually, the above excerpt is completely defied by Article 15 of the Indian Constitution.
However, the stigma is not just the social division of a certain population, it is the injustice, ignorance and the sheer political drama around it. The people in power do not wish to accept equality for it will not serve the upper caste on who they depend for undue favours. And those who raise their voice for same rights, like those three girls, fall prey to gruesome acts like gangrape and murder.
Amid all this, Ayan learns the bitter truth and decides to unfold the incident and clean up the social mess, however, his efforts are thwarted by his senior officials as their status holds more value than human life and justice. As the crime is partly conducted by the police, it all comes to show the extent of corruption especially where it is apparently fought against.
Speaking of corruption, the film puts the contemporary national political scenario on the forefront as it shows a man who rallies for public votes in the name of collective Hinduism wins the elections and an enlightened voice (Nishad) is killed because he fights aggressively blowing up the reality of the candidate.
Therefore, even though ‘Article 15″ winds up by offering justice to the dead and their families, it leaves numerous questions of national concern open. By doing so, it should succeed evoking thoughts of change that attributes to a gripping performances by Ayushmann Khurrana and Sayani Gupta, in particular. But more than that, the film makes one rethink the notion of humanity, which is a vital part of Indian heritage.