Mumbai, 13 Sep 2019 7:00 IST
Each revelation in the case makes you question your own judgement about right and wrong.
Justice is abstract, law is fact. We are not in the business of justice, we are in the business of law. These two lines delivered by defence lawyer Tarun Saluja (Akshaye Khanna) sums up Section 375 (2019) and its message about justice and law.
The film's basic plot is very straightforward and has already been explained in the trailers. Renowned film director Rohan Ravi Khurana (Rahul Bhat) is accused of raping his film's junior costume assistant Anjali Dangle (Meera Chopra). Based on circumstantial evidence, the sessions court sentences Khurana to 10 years of imprisonment.
Rohan Khurana challenges the verdict in the high court and hires the famous lawyer Saluja to fight his case. What transpires after that forms the rest of the film.
What began as an open-and-shut case ends up becoming a complex tale about justice and law as Saluja starts ripping the testimonies in the case apart one by one. As the story unfolds, each revelation makes you question your own judgement about right and wrong.
Section 375 also tackles issues such as the humiliating ordeal a rape victim has to go through again and again once she decides to register a complaint and the media trial faced by the accused and his lawyer. The film explores all of these issues without taking the side of the victim or the accused.
Director Ajay Bahl and writer Manish Gupta present a realistic take on a courtroom drama, which could easily have turned into a preachy and melodramatic film.
The film also gives information about section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, but the writer and director make sure it never feels forced. Instead, they have smartly woven all the facts about rape statistics and the ambiguous nature of laws regarding rape in the script.
Of the cast, Richa Chadha in the role of the public prosecutor and Khanna as the defence lawyer are both commendable. Instead of giving over-the-top performances like we have been witness to in many a 'Bollywood' court drama, both keep their acts understated. The film relies heavily on their acting talent and they both deliver. Chadha especially leaves her mark as a junior lawyer who, being inexperienced at handling such a high-profile case, sometimes gets overwhelmed by the situation but is never bogged down.
Rahul Bhat also conveys both shades of his character successfully. Meera Chopra, however, does not get enough screen time and her character does not have enough depth to explore and carve out a worthy performance. The supporting cast like Kishore Kadam and Kritika Desai as judges and Shrikant Yadav as an investigation officer perform their roles perfectly.
Overall, Sectioni 375 is a well-performed film. With the revival of the #MeToo movement in India, this is the right time for the release of a film like Section 375 which explores both sides of the argument.
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