Led by the astounding Gully Boy, flanked by the hard-hitting Article 15 and soulful Hamid on the sides; and backed by the dynamic Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota; 2019 has been a terrific year for Bollywood. The last time Hindi cinema got so impressive was way back in 2015. What makes 2019 more impressive, is that this good a year wasn’t expected. On the back of the muck thrown around by the #MeToo movement, late last year; after which several filmmakers and actors went into oblivion, Bollywood was expected to be in some disarray with many projects held up or lacking direction. Yet, just like any strong industry, with a robust survival mechanism would do, corporate Bollywood has struck back!
So astounding is the turnaround that even the low on hype September 2019 releases – Chhichhore, Dream Girl and Section 375 – have continued to surprise us. Section 375 not only shocks, it will also have a lasting impact on coffee table discussions in future. Specially when the topic is around female molestation, casting couch and #MeToo. Such is the premise, message and climax of this Ajay Bahl masterpiece. Men will remember this movie every time ill thoughts come to their mind; women will reflect how ghastly an incident can scar people. An accused rapist loses everything in life, before the truth is even out. A women accuser has a troubled life, anyways.
Not much can be divulged of the story. A movie director (a terrific Rahul Bhatt of Ugly fame) is accused of rape and all evidences point to the guilty. It looks an open and shut case till the prosecutor and defence lawyers go blow for blow in the high court. Richa Chaddha is fabulous and the star of the show, in his career best performance, is Akshaye Khanna. No more of those constantly raised eyebrows and lips pushed up expressions. He is the real deal. Long after the movie is over, his dialogues keep hitting the head.
“We are not in the business of justice. We are in the business of law.”
“The law let Nirbhaya’s biggest perpetrator, a minor, go to a juvenile home as punishment. The law took its course, but was justice served?”
“Law is not justice. It’s a tool to get there.”
“Never fall in love with the law, it’s a jealous mistress.”
“Justice is abstract, law is a fact.”
Each of these lines, post the movie, make you ponder over an extremely complex issue. So complex that even his wife suggests… “given today’s scenario, is it right to defend a rape accused?”.
To the best of my knowledge, the #MeToo movement didn’t legally deliver any significant punishments. It did, however, taint, scar and take away livelihood (jobs, contracts) of a few well known personalities. While it has alerted an entire society, men and women; at the same time, it has added a lot of mistrust element too. Society will always have grey shades; majority of it actually. Trust is the most essential element for that portion to survive. ‘Favours’ have settled many dreamers (low on talent girls or boys, or ones from small towns) lives in Bollywood and in corporate. The #MeToo movement may now stop men in powerful positions to give jobs and opportunities to dreamers. It may discourage consensual affairs. So who benefits? who loses? A complex issue, really.
As Akshaye Khanna says “Instead of looking at the low 25% conviction rate in rape accused cases why can’t we see that 75% of the rape accused, despite getting dissected in our long arduous legal process, are still pronounced innocent. And despite the law pronouncing them innocent, they stay guilty in every aspect of life”
Rating: 4/5 (Must Watch)