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SECTION 375 - If a complex courtroom drama leaves you in two minds seriously thinking about the case, it deserves to be seen as a must supporting such rare cinema. (Review By Bobby Sing)

15 Sep, 2019 | Movie Reviews / 2019 Releases

Courtroom Dramas usually have a set format, wherein a case is being fought between two characters or parties, and as a viewer either you already know the culprit or you get to know it towards the end as a sudden disclosure. So most of the times, it’s always convincingly black and white, with the evil getting sentenced and justice getting served providing a much relieving satisfaction to the viewers.
However very rarely comes a film showcasing a courtroom drama, which not only leaves you in two minds constantly thinking about the case but also raises a doubt over the actual meanings of the words LAW and JUSTICE - more or less considered as similar or positively related to each other.
SECTION 375 is exactly that kind of a film, which might not be a perfect one, but can certainly be called a rare attempt which boldly tries to question - Can JUSTICE be denied while the LAW is being followed or can a judge still give a verdict following the law, very well knowing that he might not be serving JUSTICE, punishing the wrong person?
Giving the writer Manish Gupta (RAHASYA, THE STONEMAN MURDERS) and director Ajay Bahl (B.A. PASS their much deserving due, SECTION 375 is also a unique film, as it isn’t just a courtroom drama on a murder or rape case as routinely seen in our Hindi Cinema. It neither has that entertaining drama of DAMINI nor the forced comedy of two recent JOLLY LLB films made to please the audience. It neither has any song squeezed in to ease out the proceedings nor any unrequired sub-plot related with the key characters. Moreover it portrays two judges like never before in a Hindi cinema giving them the much respect and dignity, that once used to be the feature of our courtroom dramas especially in the films directed by B. R. Chopra (considered to be a master of the genre with a number of films based on the theme).
Focusing on the Section 375 stressing over consent of a woman in a sexual act, the film begins well and becomes a compelling courtroom drama soon without wasting much time in the buildup. With a subtle background score, apt cinematography, art direction and crisp editing, it seldom comes up with some dragging moments and realistically showcases the rape sequence without going overboard, refusing to bow down to the so called commercial requirements of a project.
The visuals might be disturbing in the form of pictures displayed as evidence in the court but they still remain more real far away from anything filmy defying the routine. Plus the director tries to incorporate everything of the present era ranging from public revolt to social media campaigns against the rapists, when the ‘MeToo’ movement has already created many controversies.
Along with the writing and execution, what truly enhances the impact of SECTION 375 is its thoughtful casting in the major and the comparatively smaller roles. Both Akshaye Khanna and Richa Chadha once again remind the industry and viewers together that they are two of the most underrated actors at the present, waiting for their deserving roles. However where Akshaye excels rendering the well written dialogues with his charming smile, Richa suffers due to an underwritten role as an injustice to her (discussed later in details). 
Likewise, Kishore Kadam and Kruttika Desai are just perfect as the two reputed judges, Rahul Bhatt acts well as the arrogant-accused director and Meera Chopra plays it in a quite unmoving manner, trying to display various (changing) shades of her character, without getting many lines to render as the victim. Maybe that is the reason, she is not able to evoke any emotion or sympathy among the viewers or maybe that is how the writer/director wished her to be seen in the film.
In the supporting cast, Shriswara keeps expressing well through her eyes, Sandhya Mridul is just fine in a cameo and so is Shrikant Yadav as the policemen creating a mess along with others in its strong supporting cast. 
Continuing with the praises, the film’s screenplay/dialogues by Manish Gupta along with the direction shows the extensive research behind the project, presenting the case with the famous ROSHOMON kind of progression, duly mentioning the details of the Sections and earlier judgments in the court. Plus it was really thoughtful to have a male and a female judge hearing the re-appealed rape case together, supporting a balanced approach.
Having said that, I still cannot call it an almost perfect or mind blowing film as it has flaws both in the execution as well as the intent of the final outcome, I am quite doubtful about.
To begin with the downers, I honestly missed the balance between the two lawyers fighting the case, portraying Richa Chadha as the weaker, confused and unprepared one right from the initial scenes. Surprisingly she continues with the same approach throughout the film and never appears to be preparing or building her big case. Richa’s expressions in the court while listening to the strong arguments of the opponent at times look amateurish and unjustified contradicting her given character. Moreover, she never wins the case due to her presentation in the court. She wins it as the judges find themselves restricted because of the law, otherwise she could have easily lost it due to her weak argumentation made in a casual manner. 
On the other hand, it was also strange noticing Akshaye not moving anywhere out of his home to research on the complicated case. In fact no body researches the case ever in the first court. The girl had been living in a gifted apartment by the director, but nobody finds that out in the first hearing and nobody brings that fact to the court too questioning the family members. In addition, it was also weird to see two women (the lawyer the and accused’s wives) supporting their husbands in an already proven rape case.
The film fails to provide any shocks too (normally always there in a court room drama), as predictability creeps in post the intermission and you can easily guess where the film is actually heading towards and with what purpose. Plus it was also strange to see the mess created by the police official without any returns as such and then even the judges not punishing the crime committed by the officer in charge during the crucial investigations.
Overall, I would surely like to praise the effort made with a strong recommendation to watch it at the earliest in order to have your own viewpoint on the case, instead of following mine to be fair.
The film deserves to be seen as it leaves you in two minds thinking about the case as well as the film coming at a perfect timing. It’s about a court case where you will not be able to clap in the end for the winner. As a matter of fact, I also couldn’t do so in PINK, as in there too the verdict accepts that the girls did take money, becoming winners along with the declared tag of ‘money-taking-girls’ moving out of the court. And nobody thought that how that one tag would have made their life as hell even after winning the case.
Coming back to SECTION 375, the film makes you think in a different manner with big doubts also about its actual intent. It makes you question that was this film made to enlighten the viewers about the difference between the terms LAW and JUSTICE or was it made to intentionally point towards the number of FALSE CASES filed by modern-age girls with a hidden revenge motive? In other words, coming right after the infamous METOO movement, one might doubt it to be a propaganda kind of film too as an answer or clarification from the filmmakers themselves who are more likely to be the victims of such false accusations.
Whatever might be the intent, the film raises many valid questions forcing you to think and that’s what a well-made film does, moving miles ahead than the usual packaged entertainment products released every holiday weekend. 
No, here I am not going to give you my opinion of how I felt after watching the film and what conclusions I had in mind, as that might influence you to think in a particular biased way. 
Here I am giving you every reason to watch it as a must to form your own personal perspective giving it a serious thought.
And the chances are that if you go for it as a couple, then you might come out of the theater with two different and conflicting viewpoints watching it as a male and female, which is quite natural and acceptable. But beware; those conflicting perspectives should not really lead to any serious clash. 

Rating : 3.5 / 5 

Tags : SECTION 375 Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Hindi Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New Bollywood Movies Reviews By Bobby Sing, Hindi Films Courtroom Dramas, Metoo Movement, Films on Rape Cases in Court
15 Sep 2019 / Comment ( 1 )

Wonderful detailed review of a well made movie.

Agree with ur analysis of string n weak points. Saw the movie today on tv

I feel he had not rapped her n feel same could hv happened for shiney ahuja case too what say?

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