Section 375

wogma rating: Even the keen, wait for it to come on TV/online (?)

quick review:

Well-made? Sure. Good performances? Absolutely. Well-written? Crisp.

Did I like it? No.

But then, shouldn’t a movie be made on men’s rights? Oh absolutely. And a round of slow-clap for that.

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Director: Ajay Bahl
Running time: 120 minutes
Genres: Social
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Section 375 - Preview

The horrifying high number of rape cases, the terrifying low number of predators convicted, the humiliating process of seeking justice–in real life–are going to make for a powerful film. Especially, since it looks like it is written and executed well.

Not that anything in the trailer (and most likely the film) is unheard of or a shocking revelation, yet you can tell the film is going to be a difficult watch.

On a lighter note, I don’t mind being educated about the law through films like these. First, Article 15, and now this.

Section 375 releases on 13 September 2019.

- meeta, a part of the audience

Given that the makers wanted to tell a certain story, Section 375 is well made. The production is crisp. There is barely any dramatics, despite there being plenty of room for it. And yet the film isn’t boring, even once. The writing insightful, witty and even profound (within the context of the film’s politics). It matters not, whether I agree with it or not. If the film’s characters believe in X-Y-Z, then A-B-C is what their actions would be. Understandable. This is how they would argue to make their point. Makes sense. And, I am glad the writers articulated it well. Men’s rights activists got their film. I am happy for them. 

It’s a shame that the presentation of the point of view keeps the film from deliberating on the many interesting points it brings up

This still does not mean I like the film. Of course, it doesn’t align with my beliefs, and that is reason enough. The makers are allowed their biases, I am allowed mine. But Section 375, like Kabir Singh in some ways, puts perpetrators on a pedestal. 

“See this lawyer, he is defending a rapist on technicalities. But he fights cases for the underprivileged for free. Wow! What a nice human being.” “He believes rapists and murderers deserve to be defended. How confident and charismatic. He can now patronise his junior condescendingly. That this junior is a woman, is incidental. After all, lawyers on two sides of a case must intimidate each other.” “And wow look-look, he actually admits all that’s wrong with his client.” Isn’t this enough? This attitude of awe towards the protagonist becomes the film’s message. And that is the problem.

Movies like these aren’t telling a story. They are presenting a point of view, which is most likely the makers’ point of view. And the story-telling is there to serve that purpose. It is a matter of convenience then that given the evidence and the climax of the case, a lawyer—a smart, successful one at that—lets their client keep the real story from the court. Other than this, of course, the writing is pleasantly straightforward. The performances too could have easily lent themselves to dramatics but refrain, seemingly with ease, especially those of Akshaye Khanna, Richa Chadda, Kruttika Desai, and Kishore Kadam. Rahul Bhat and Meera Chopra, on the other hand, successfully evoke anger and sympathy. 

So technically the film is on firm ground. Just like the case in the movie, is that good enough, though? 

Scarily, the presentation of the point of view made me feel that the makers believe they have presented a balanced case on the many contrasts the film brings up—justice versus law; idealism versus ambition; men’s rights versus women’s rights; rape versus consensual sex. It has not. Instead, it turns the meaning of privilege around and misuses numbers like they are in WhatsApp University*. What? Did the writers think only they could come up with things like Court of Facebook/Twitter?

By the way, with so many statistics being thrown around, it would have been nice to know a couple more. The percentage of falsely accused rapes in the total number of rapes reported and the estimate of unreported rape cases, for instance.

Scarily, the presentation of the point of view made me feel that the makers believe they have presented a balanced case on the many contrasts the film talks about

*Not my coinage, of course. I don’t remember where I heard it first.

- meeta, a part of the audience

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: Entire story revolves around rape
  • Language: No curse words used
  • Nudity & Sexual content: Lots of scenes with images and videos of sex/rape
  • Concept: Justice versus law. Men’s rights versus women’s rights. Rape versus consensual sex
  • General Look and Feel: Crisp court room drama

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

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Section 375 - Cast, crew, links

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120 minutes
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Comments (1)

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Pomita

I think the term Whatsapp University was coined by my favorite journalist Ravish Kumar - at least I first heard it from him. My favorite satirist Akash Banerjee has T-shirts with this logo. Nice to see it used in a review by one of my favorite reviewers. :)

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