In one of the scenes in Article 15, as a senior officer gears up to wade into waist-level sludge in search of a missing girl, he asks a constable if his mother had any advice for such ventures. To this, the man denies but adds that the TV has a advice which says, 'daag acche hain'. Even in the most grimmest situation, director-writer Anubhav Sinha manages to blend in a hint of situational humour which works in his favour in this Ayushmann Khurrana starrer.
Foreign-returned IPS officer Ayan Ranjan (Ayushmann Khurrana) is handed over the incharge of Lalgaon Police Station in the heartland of India. As events unfold one after the other, Ayan realizes that the place is grappling with caste discrimation at every corner.
Even before he could sink in this culture shock, a horrifying crime comes into the light where two underage girls are found hanging from a tree after being brutually violated, while the third girl goes missing. Everyone around him is keen to brush off the case under the carpet in the guise of 'honour-killing', but Ayan's instincts tell him otherwise.
'Aap logo ka transfer ho jata hai, hume maar diya jata hain," warns one of the cops as he decides to dive deep into investigating the gruesome crime. The rest of the plot revolves around how Ayan uncovers the truth.
With 'Article 15', director Anubhav Sinha and writer Gaurav Solanki borrow a leaf out of a real-life incident and spin a hard-hitting narrative which makes you realize how deep the caste-based crimes run in our society. The makers do not sugarcoat the bitter pill and that's one of the reasons why 'Article 15' makes a compelling watch.
On the flipside, Sinha introduces some characters on a promising note, but fails to give them a proper conclusion. Also, the political undertone in the narrative at a few places could have been easily avoided.
Finally breaking free from his 'Dilli ka munda' mould, Ayushmann Khurrana drops a pleasant surprise as a tough cop who refuses to give in to the obstacles around him. The actor shines in the scene where he is baffled with the caste hierachy. There are moments where he just lets his facial expressions do the talking and boy, the intensity soon grows on you.
Sayani Gupta is pitch-perfect in her part. Seasoned actors like Manoj Pahwa and Kumud Mishra pack a punch with their brilliant act. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub and Naseer too put up a good act, though Zeeshan's role could have been fleshed a little more.
Ewan Mulligan's cinematography is grim and gritty and blends well with the theme of the film. There are moments of discomfort when the lens capture the harsh reality of caste discrimination. Yasha Ramchandani's editing could have been a taut especially in lazy first half.
Mangesh Dhadke's background is effective, but should have been a little controlled as it hampers a few dialogues at places.
Ayushmann Khurrana's Article 15 holds a mirror to our society that's still grappling with caste disparities even after the birth of Indian Constitution. I am going with 3.5 stars.