A lot has changed in the Hindi film industry in last few years as some of the age-old themes have found contemporary voices of writers and directors. One of those themes is courtroom drama. Bollywood seems to be getting over the over-sensationalised courtroom dramas where the lawyers are yelling over the top of their lung capacity and the judges are merely doing “order-order”. Director Subhash Kapoor’s thoroughly entertaining Jolly LLB and Jolly LLB 2, Anubhav Sinha’s thought provoking Mulk, and Chaitanya Tamhane’s poignant Court are some of the notable courtroom dramas in recent times. Director Ajay Bahl’s Section 375 – Marzi Ya Zabardasti is the new addition to this list. Point to be noted, the judges in these films have a great say in the cases than just delivering the verdict.
Section 375 decodes the rape law in India through a debate between following the law and whether justice has been done. A film director Rohan Khurana (Rahul Bhat) is accused of rape by a costume assistant Anjali Dangle (Meera Chopra). (Seems like loosely taken from actor Shiney Ahuja’s case.) The matter is taken to the court and the drama begins to unfold.
The narrative does not take anyone’s side. Rather it keeps you in pursuit of the truth through its twisted tale – his side, her side. The sympathy in any of the cases goes to the victim. How do you find the truth and most importantly how do you make sure that justice is done? The best thing that anyone associated with the cases – police, forensics, lawyers – can do is follow the law. It’s a complex and sensitive puzzle to solve.
Watch the Section 375 trailer here:
There are no fine lines in such cases, at least the one that this film shows. The lines have been blurred and crossed. Telling you more about the story will hurt your movie watching experience as the strength of Section 375 lies in the way the story unfolds, literally scene by scene.
Making a film on such a sensitive issue as rape in a rapidly growing, poorly informed, and easily manipulated population is difficult. Making an entertaining and though provoking film is even tougher. Writer Manish Gupta (Sarkar) who has also made films like The Stoneman Murders, Rahasya provides all the information on the law and its layers, and plots the arguments between lawyers Tarun Saluja (Akshaye Khanna) of the accused and Hiral Gandhi (Richa Chadha) the prosecutor.
No emotional speeches, no feisty rivalries between the battling lawyers, no one getting into a physical fight in the court. It’s a breather from all the nonsense we have grown up watching. Director Ajay Bahl (he made B.A. Pass) and cinematographer Sudhir K. Chaudhary do away with the traditional pans and dollys. Instead they take multiple angles of the same scene, just like the story tries to show the different aspects of such cases and law. Even though it’s cleverly written and finely executed, Section 375 is a disturbing experience for the issue it tries to address. So, should it be watched in theatres? Yes.