It’s such a brutal irony that, while Article 15 – one of the Fundamental Rights accorded by India’s Constitution – bars discriminations on the basis of religion, race, caste, gender, etc., discriminations on those very grounds remain as deep-set and all-pervading as ever. The nauseating stench of Brahminical and patriarchal hegemony, and violence against the so-called lower castes – which is especially pronounced in the towns and rural hinterlands in India’s “Cow Belt” – formed the key tenet in this taut and discomfiting crime thriller. And, despite being tad didactic and unsubtle at times, it packed some punch. Ayan (Ayushmann Khurana), a young IPS Officer posted in the UP badlands, gets introduced to the caste-ridden environment that he was thus far oblivious of, as he witnesses the poisonous extent to which the upper-caste can go to put Dalits – who, unfortunately, perform the society’s most ignominious tasks – in their place, when two young girls are viciously butchered for daring to demand a marginal increase in their wage; the widescreen shot, against a barren landscape, of the two girls hanging from a tree, was haunting. As the cop goes about apprehending the culprits of this heinous crime, he encounters corrupt cops (led by the excellent Manoj Pahwa), power-hungry politicians, cynical bureaucrats, callous media, casual indifferences and societal normalizations. He also meets a charismatic Dalit rebel leader (Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub) – it might’ve been darn compelling to watch the story unfold from his eyes – and his feisty girlfriend (Sayani Gupta). Despite a hopeful finale which seemed removed from ground realities, the stark, visceral and solidly-made film raised inconvenient questions and touched raw nerves, as evidenced by the hostility it has faced from certain sections of the society.
Director: Anubhav Sinha
Genre: Crimer Thriller/Police Procedural