Section 375 Movie Review: Akshaye Khanna is the soul of this film examining rape cases from another vantage

Section 375 is a riveting courtroom drama that highlights ‘legality and technicalities of law’ takes prominence over ‘perceived justice’.
Section 375 Movie Review: Akshaye Khanna is the soul of this film examining rape cases from another vantageSection 375 Movie Review: Akshaye Khanna is the soul of this film examining rape cases from another vantage
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Section 375

Section 375 Cast: Akshaye Khanna, Richa Chadha, Meera Chopra, Rahul Bhat & Kruttika Desai 

Section 375 Director: Ajay Bahl

Section 375 Stars: 3/5

Section 375 is a riveting courtroom drama that highlights ‘legality and technicalities of law’ takes prominence over ‘perceived justice’.

In 2016, Pink a courtroom drama on Section 375 heightened awareness on the importance of consent with the famous dialogue: She said, NO. Three years later, Section 375 is an attempt to take it further by highlighting the conspicuous absence of either -- consent or will – is important to define rape as per law. Section 375 is a riveting and engaging courtroom drama that opens up the audience to the gender pushback #MenToo movement. The movie is a reminder that sometimes what seems like an open-and-shut case during media and social media trials are convoluted.

The story of Section 375 begins with Anjali Dangle (Meera Chopra) a junior costume designer who visits an arrogant and famous film director Rohan Khurana (Rahul Bhat) at his home to show him the costumes for his upcoming film. Later, a distraught Anjali is shown opening up to her sibling that she was raped and molested by Rohan. The police file a case under Section 375 against Rohan, and the Sessions Court convicts him. Till this point, the story narrates Anjali’s desperate attempts to put up a fight for her right even while answering insensitive questions of a curt medical officer (Dibyendu Bhattacharya).

ALSO READ: Richa Chadha says gender parity within workforce will sensitise one to women crimes

The movie, however, takes a bold turn when Rohan’s wife Kainaaz (Shriswara) approaches famous criminal lawyer Tarun Saluja (Akshaye Khanna) to be her husband’s defence counsel in the Bombay High Court against his ex-protégé and public prosecutor Hiral Gandhi (Richa Chadha). As the case proceeds, Tarun uncovers facts which peel-off the skin from the open-and-shut case and attempts to turn it into vendetta case misusing the provisions of law against men. Hereon, the story becomes the tussle of vantages, warning the audience to be wary of choosing sides. If Pink was about how society blames rape victims, Section 375 highlights the misuse of gender-biased law.

The film is written by Manish Gupta of the Rahasya and Stoneman Murder fame, and co-written and directed by Ajay Bahl of the B.A Pass fame. Both Manish and Ajay have proven mastery in counter-perspectives. B.A. Pass looked at how a woman draws a young boy into prostitution, while Rahasya was a gutsy take on the infamous Noida teenager murder case accusing the parents. With Section 375, the duo has scripted an interesting battle of legal pragmatism, ethics and technicalities.

The first half is gripping but also befools audience to believe that it’s a predictable story. It's the second half and climax which makes this courtroom drama more interesting. At some point, you might find tangents to the Shiney Ahuja rape trial too. The cinematography is fantastic, ensuring that with each angle the story spins a different tale.

Akshaye Khanna owns this thriller and is the soul of the film. He has captured the demeanour of a senior lawyer with nuance, smirking at the immaturity of his ex-protégé and reminding her that they are in the business of law and not justice. It also reminds us of his character in the film, Deewangee, where he played a shrewd lawyer who defends a murder convict. Akshaye’s gives multiple shades to the character giving the impression of an arrogant and selfish lawyer. By the end of the film, you will also empathise and understand his perspective of legal duels.

ALSO READ: Section 375: Akshaye Khanna stands with conviction as he questions “Marzi ya Zabardsati” in new poster

Richa Chadha has played her part of a defence lawyer cum activist convincingly. Meera Chopra surprises you with her character. Rahul Bhat justifies the character arc and ensures not to overplay it. Shriswara and Dibyendu Bhattacharya are emerging as dependable co-stars who albeit have very little screen-space, deliver.

Like any good courtroom drama, the film is laced with acidic dialogues. The two key dialogues sum-up the story: ‘We are in the business of law and not justice’, and ‘has any man acquitted of rape ever walked free?’ The film leaves the audience to wonder: Can truth have versions? The film is engaging and relevant for the time. But will it find takers, only time will tell. 

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