Article 370 Review: Hard hitting must watch political drama

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Article 370 film hit the theatre on 23 February

Yami Gautam Dhar and Priya Mani starrer ‘Article 370’ graced the cinema screens on this Friday (23 February). Directed by Aditya Suhas Jambhale, the film emerges as a cinematic masterpiece, enriching the theatrical experience of viewers on National Cinema Day and beyond. Article 370 is a political drama film which is co-produced and co-written by Uri-famed Aditya Dhar, husband of lead actress Yami Gautam. It has a total run-time of 2 hours and 38 minutes and it does justice to its central premise: examining how Article 370 shielded the ‘conflict economy’ in the valley and why it was necessary to abrogate it.

The movie is a riveting tale shown from the perspective of a Kashmiri Pandit ‘girl’ who plays a pivotal role in dealing an impactful blow on the root cause of terrorism and gutting the conflict economy in the valley.

The film covers the meticulous details of episodes that transpired in the valley between 2016 to 2019 leading upto the D-Day, 5 August 2019. For those unversed, on 5th August 2019, Union Home Minister Amit Shah moved to the Rajya Sabha in a stealth secrecy to ‘nullify’ the powers vested in the temporary and transient provisions of the Indian  Constitution, Article 370.

Written by a team comprising Aditya Dhar, Arjun Dhawan and Aditya Suhas Jambhale, the movie has a gripping screenplay with engaging interactions and powerful acting doing the heavy lifting which is equally commended by intermittent ‘heartbeat thumping’ background score and visually stunning gun fight sequences. The banter between arch-nemesis valley politicians and the sharp exchanges between Raj Zutshi (playing a mixed character of Farooq and Omar Abdullah) and Yami Gautam (portraying security officer Zooni Haksar) stand out, to name a few dialogues.

The movie has a stellar ensemble cast complementing each other’s performances, seamlessly appearing as a unified team and delivering picturesque execution. Despite receiving limited screen time, Arun Govil, known for his portrayal of Shri Ram in Ramayan, and senior actor Kiran Karmakar, leave an indelible mark. They depict key political figures PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah respectively.

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Further, in a refreshing deviation from Bollywood template, the movie didn’t follow the set pattern of giving a romantic arc to the protagonist or be it to include songs at regular intervals. The movie doesn’t deviate a bit from its central premise – hardships caused by the temporary provision, benefits to vested players primarily separatist leaders, corrupt bureaucrats and valley politicians and planning, strategization and efforts that went into nullifying this constitutional provision.

Furthermore, Article 370 dispels any doubts about the move being a knee-jerk reaction. It seamlessly presents intricate details and constitutional complexities in an uncluttered way, shedding light on the comprehensive actions leading to the abrogation of Article 370 on 5 August 2019 including crackdown on separatist leaders Yaseen Malik and ilk and drying up their funding source.

However, the fact that the film is rich in intricate details and references to real characters, places and events, it could work as a double-edge sword for the film.

While the film’s inclusion of actual references and remarks resonated deeply with dedicated fans, it may land short to captivate those who lack the necessary context. Moreover, it might not fully meet the expectations of action enthusiasts, as it restrains itself from indulging in typical Bollywood tropes such as over-the-top action sequences and clichéd, chest-thumping one-liners. Instead, the film remains focused on its central theme, reinforcing that the abrogation of Article 370 was a constitutional measure, not a military op.

It is a cinematic masterpiece worthy of a theatrical experience particularly in the political drama genre. Just like the way daily ground reports from Kashmir undergo a positive transformation in the movie – from recurrent scenes of violence, hartals, secessionist/seditionist and communal speeches to opening up of equal avenues for SC/ST, women, different sects among Muslim community – real-life Kashmir has ushered in a new era in post-Article 370 valley. The film aptly captures this transformative journey.

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