Anubhav Sinha’s Article 15 is making waves since its release. The movie shows us some everyday truths that we live with, thinking ye to aise hi hota hai (This is how it works). But watching those truths on screen, makes one very very uncomfortable and forces us to think about our ‘liberty’ that more often than not, comes colluded with prejudice.
Ayushmann Khurrana’s Ayan Ranjan is the key character around which the whole film revolves. He does a brilliant job as the inexperienced cop that is thrown into situations he never had to face but takes it upon himself to right all wrongs. The setup might seem immensely removed from reality but the intent is good.
He has received widespread praise for his role and rightly so. But according to me, there are some other real ‘heroes’ that make Article 15 a good piece of cinema, no matter what your political affiliations are.
Supporting Cast: Heart of the Movie
The real heroes for me are the members of the supporting cast. Ranging from experienced actors like Manoj Pahwa and Kumud Mishra to more contemporary actors like Sayani Gupta and Zeeshan Ayyub Khan, all give life to their characters. They make you love them, hate them, cry with them with utmost ease.
With the limited screen time they get, they show that it’s quality over quantity and as long as you are doing a good job and leaving an impression on your audience, screen time doesn’t matter.
Some of the most notable performances for me were:
1. Manoj Pahwa as Police Inspector Brahma Dutt
"“Santulan mat bigadiye yaha ka...”" - Manoj Pahwa as Brahmadutt
“Don’t disbalance this place...’
A savarna police inspector who tries his best to brush a heinous crime against three dalit girls under the rug. He defends the caste divide and wants to keep it that way.
You dislike him pretty much from the get go. But as the movie progresses, so does your disliking which pretty much turns into full blown hatred by the end of it.
The whole theatre erupted in an applause on seeing him getting slapped, that was the real benchmark of how good his acting is.
Pahwa plays the creepy slimeball with ease and you can see the many layers of the character unfolding in Article 15 through him.
2. Kumud Mishra as Inspector Jatav
"“Kab tak jhaadu lagwayenge sir?”" - Kumud Mishra as Inspector Jatav
The man already has a cult status among millennials from his role in Rockstar. But Kumud Mishra showed us why is he a brilliant actor and deserves much more attention and adulation than he already gets.
The meek police officer develops into one with confidence, righteousness and values and the audience feel every part of his journey.
Jatav, who used to sweep the local school and is a dalit, is mostly seen following Pahwa’s Bhahmadutt. His character is clearly living with plenty of internal conflict. But soon because of Ayan Ranjan, he finds his voice and becomes key in taking the story forward.
When he slaps Brahmadutt and says “kab tak jhaadu lagwayenge” (till when will you make us sweep), the audience bursts into a cheer. Rightly so.
3. Sayani Gupta as Gaura
"“Teen rupiya badhane boli thi vo dihaadi mein...”" - Sayani Gupta as Gaura
Her dialogue is a reality check on the state of the underprivileged in our country.
Going de-glam for a role is not always an easy job for actors but Sayani Gupta does it with utmost ease.
Her character emotes without saying much. She acts with her eyes and words are not needed.
4. Zeeshan Ayyub as Nishaad
" “Hum kabhi harijan ho jate hain, kabhi bahujan ho jate hain... Bas jan nahi ban pa rahe hain... Ki jan gan man mein hamari bhi ginti ho jaaye.” " - Zeeshan Ayuub as Nishad
Another favourite from his roles in movies like Raanjhanaa and Tanu Weds Manu Returns, Zeeshan brings to life the rebellious young politician with a purpose - Nishad. As soon as he walks in you are reminded of popular Bhim Army leader, Chandrashekhar Azad. That seems like the intent of the makers and they achieve it 200%.
Each and every dialogue uttered by Zeeshan hits hard. His monologue in the end sums up the whole caste struggle almost effortlessly. It moved me to tears and my respect for him as an actor quadrupled.
In one scene, right before climax, Nishad breaks down in front of Sayani Gupta’s Gaura for not being able to spend even five minutes in peace depicting a much softer, humane side of the ‘baaghi’. The scene barely lasts for a few minutes, but it gives us one of the most emotional moments in the film.
Additionally, Veen Harsh who played the ruthless contractor Anshu Nahariya stole every scene he is a part of, at times taking away the attention from Ayushmann. Other actors like Shubrajyoti Bharat as Chandrabhan, Ashish Verma as Mayank, Sushil Pandey as Nihal Singh and Akash Dabhade as Satyendra also left an imprint on our minds.
Even though there has been some criticism for the saviour complex that the movie glorifies, it still remains one of the most important movies of our time.
All pros and cons aside, the actors especially the ones that you only know by the names of their characters, leave a lasting impact.
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