Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury runs a tight ship. A tense undercurrent is set from the very first scene. The mood is grim, the colour palette filled with greys, the sound design gloomy and the characters shady. The misty surrounds of Delhi set the perfect stage for the drama to unfold.
3 girls fall into a terrible mess and a weirdly grumpy old man helps them. He stalks them for a bit and then realizes that they are in trouble. So decides to step in and do something about it. Why is he so grumpy and strange, is neither established nor deemed necessary! Infact the director doesn’t spoon-feed too much, which is kinda refreshing.
What works for the film is that the characters and situations are believable. The brash boys and their political contacts have their limits, the girls are heroic yet human and the judicial system fair. Taapsee Pannu and Kirti Kulhari are perfectly cast, and emote effortlessly. Amitabh seems a little typecast and does go a little over-the-top in some sequences, but who the hell cares! His presence itself provides oodles of hope in the otherwise tense proceedings. Also, the director neither makes the villain a super villain, nor makes Amitabh a super hero. Yes, he is shown as a good lawyer, but no time in wasted in showing off his repertoire.
While the screenplay is swift, the story is a little scant. Though the outcome is a given, the film does get a little repetitive and makes its point in a rather tedious way. 15 minutes could easily be chopped off, but commercial constraints would have pushed the director into adding a morose subplot. Also, there are a few plot loop holes which conveniently make the situation even more tough for the girls in distress. The writer ( Ritesh Shah) takes a couple of liberties and adds to the drama, but then it can be forgiven because the message is strong.
Should you watch the film? Yes. Coz like in the 90s, the message is still relevant. When it comes to consent, there is no ambiguity. A “No” means “No”, no matter who is saying it - be it a sex worker or your wife. Unless you respect that, you might aswell be living in the stone age! What is really sad, is that when you see the film you realize that this could happen to anyone of us. We talk about progress, but then there are limits to our definition of progress. A woman cannot get physical before marriage without getting labelled. Forget that, in a country where Manchurian and Mannequins can cause rapes, the definition of Consent must be reiterated. And Shoojit Sircar’s cast and crew successfully manage the same.
Rating : 6.5/10 ( The message more than makes up for the flaws )