Article 370 is another brilliant expose of reality

Yami Gautam Dhar in Article 370. Photo: Jio Studios

This is another welcome addition to the real-life exposes that we have witnessed in the last few years, among them being the same writer, Aditya Dhar’s directorial, URI—The Surgical Strike and also The Ghazi Attack, The Tashkent Files, The Kashmir Files, The Vaccine War, Sam Bahadur and others. It not only shows us unknown aspects of known incidents or events and also lets us into the inner secrets, complexities and more of how vital facts were hidden from the nation, and manipulated or subverted by people and political forces in power.

Article 370 is superbly directed with excellent blending of facts with a bit of fiction. Documentary-like boredom is thus avoided and high-voltage drama is the result. In this worthy successor to URI…, we get to know multiple truths that were not known to us, both about the abrogation process of Article 370 of the Indian constitution and also of the original Article itself, introduced almost by subterfuge and yet manipulated decades before it was removed.

Graphically and factually, we are shown how this was used to foment and perpetuate violence and anarchy in India’s crown (geographically as well) states of Jammu and Kashmir, and the real reason behind issues like stone-pelting and more serious aspects that almost took away Kashmir from us.

In a welcome surprise, two women—dedicated field agent Zooni Haksar (Yammi Gautam Dhar, now Aditya’s wife in real life) and secretary to the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office) Rajeshwari Swaminathan (Priyamani) occupy centerstage in this film that briefly opens in 1947, explaining how a part of Kashmir went to Pakistan (and China) and how Article 370 came into existence and wreaked havoc for 70 years.

From here on, Zooni and Rajeshwari face their respective individual odds before finally coming together. Rajeshwari offers Zooni a prime role in the NIA (National Intelligence Agency) once the PM and his team decide that Article 370 must be—constitutionally—removed for the betterment of Jammu & Kashmir and the country. It details the vital aspect of how that had to be strategically done in a way that not a single drop of innocent blood was shed in the process. Zooni’s brief is a free hand, and her own passion for her nation is also further fueled by the fact that her innocent and equally dedicated father had to face disgrace and end his life, thanks to the machinations of politicians.

The artful manner in which the PM and the Home Minister got the job done after getting a window into history is another very delightful insight we see within the film. Refreshingly and rewardingly as well, some key historical aspects I was unaware of when the landmark move took place on August 5, 2019 and totally restored political and economic normalcy and development in the state, are also revealed.

The film’s strength lies not merely in its conception and execution but also in the powerful performances and ruthless depiction of facts without any exaggeration. The script and the film’s editing (Shivkumar V. Panicker) are crisp and very cinematic, while the background score is perfectly pitched. The songs composed by Shashwat Sachdev (like the score) sound very nice within the film, along with some decent lyrics.

The camerawork is fantastic, and I would especially single out the library sequence here in a uniform high standard of work. The VFX by Identical Brains Studios is excellent and as for the direction, it is superlative for a debut Hindi film set in a region with which this director is not even remotely connected! Many Maharashtrian-Goan directors emerge cinematic or commercial failures when they venture into Hindi cinema, but Aditya Suhas Jambhale is a sparkling exception.

Yami Gautam Dhar and Priyamani, in one word, are magnificent. Yami excels in her dramatic scenes and her expressions and tone are exemplary, especially in the sequence where she threatens a separatist by making him hang outside a window. Her introductory sequence is also explosive. Priyamani’s perfect businesslike expressions and understated intensity are powerful portrayals from an actress whose track-record has been largely laudable.

Vaibhav Tatwawadi as Chouhan, Arun Govil as Modi and Kiran Karmarkar as Amit Shah are excellent as well, but among the supporting artistes, the ‘negative’ forces shine more! Raj Zutshi, Divya Seth Shah, Raj Arjun, Ashwini Koul, Rajiv Kumar and Sumit Kaul are wonderfully cast and perform very well, while Skand Thakur also makes a mark as Zooni’s associate, Wasim.

After a long while, with some movie mishaps or boring films in the interim, we come across another terrific patriotic drama that enlightens even as it skillfully—and relentlessly—entertains.

Jio Studios & B62 Productions’ Artcile 370  Produced by: Jyoti Deshpande, Aditya Dhar & Lokesh Dhar  Directed by: Aditya Suhas Jambhale  Written by: Aditya Dhar, Aditya Suhas Jambhale, Monal Thaakar & Aarsh Vora  Music: Shashwat Sachdev  Starring: Yami Gautam Dhar, Priyamani, Arun Govil, Kiran Karmarkar, Vaibhav Tatwawadi, Skand Thakur, Raj Zutshi, Divya Seth Shah, Raj Arjun, Iravati Harshe, Ashwini Kumar, Sumit Kaul, Rajiv Kumar, Asit Redij, Dr. Mohan Agashe & others   




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