It’s in our face, but we’d rather brush it under the carpet or deny when faced with it, ‘they may think that way, not us’. Between the US and THEM, somewhere we lost being empathetic as a race, the ‘human race’. Caste divides and issues stare us in the face everyday, despite the fact we have moved away from the dark feudal ages, but sadly the mindset remains the same.
Article 15 comes to shake you of your reverie once again, as in the constitution Article 15 clearly states, No citizen, on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex can be discriminated against. Well, the holy irony of it all, we continue to segregate and distinguish humanity on those grounds.
Meet Ayan Ranjan – played by Ayushmann Khurana – an IPS officer, a man who is urbane, well-educated and kind of unaware of the harsh reality around. Can’t blame him, though. Like many of us, he hasn’t seen ugly things happen around him, and he can’t wrap his head around the fact that ‘this still exists’.
This being ‘discrimination on the basis of caste and the politics around it’.
Based on the Badaun rape, where two teenage girls, who had set out to go to the fields in the absence of toilets, went missing. Their bodies were found hanging from a tree the next day, that led to a police investigation on whether it was a case suicide or murder after suspected rape. The girls’ family, on the other hand, believed that the officers were shielding the offenders.
The arrival of the upright Ayan Ranjan in the village sends ripples, he is regarded as too urban and disconnected by the ‘realities’ and the way of life by his subordinates, as told, he does not know what santulan is. The officer is given a tutorial on ‘jaat path’ which he is told is sacrosanct.
Ranjan is baffled when he is told it’s irrelevant to fight for the cause of picchadi jaati, they don’t have any rights. “Agar sab barabar hogaye, raja kaun banega, sir” he is asked.
So as Ayan tries to solve the rape case and resolves to bring justice to the victims, he is told to not mess with the systems which are there for a reason. Ayan is a savior, not a vigilante. He depicts the ‘humane face’, a man who is liberal in his views, he undergoes a change in his thought process struck by the dehumanized face of reality which bites him.
Ayushmann Khurrana, who admitted that this was a film and part he wanted to play most, shines in his character. I didn’t, however, understand what was Ayan’s activist girlfriends role in the narrative. She sings a song with him, motivates him, gets miffed and disappears.
The film does get sluggish in parts, but has its heart in the right place. It’s meant to disturb, and it does that. Will it initiate a debate? Well, let’s hope it does. After all, it is the privileged lot that can initiate a change, as suggested by director Anubhav Sinha, through the narrative. Can we be dismissive or initiate a change in our own way, Article 15 makes you question yourself and your beliefs.
I give the film – 3 out 5.