‘Article 370’ sets the record straight on a historic move

New Delhi:  Much water has flowed in Kashmir over the decades with little concern for its people. However, it was not until the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, that people sat up and took note of the region in the eye of the storm since 1947.

Director Aditya Suhas Jambhale traverses a territory in the two-and-half hour long film to tells us more about the gratuitous violence and unrest that has cost umpteen lives in the Valley. Almost half of the film navigates through insurgency and the role of extremists and separatists in collusion with the fuelling agencies from across the border to disrupt peace.

Jambhale’s well-researched and technically well-made narrative that encapsulates many fictional elements including several fictitious characters, pulls it off briskly. Those of us who know little about the Constitution and its history would sit up and take note of the political history of our land, and Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

Intelligence agent Zooni Haksar (Yami Gautam Dhar) is Kashmiri, and works closely with bureaucrat Rajeshwari Swaminathan (Priya Mani). They are supported by none other than Prime Minister (Arun Govil) and the Home Minister (Kiran Karmarkar) in their mission. When Zooni gets Burhan Wani, a dreaded terrorist, she doesn’t get many bouquets for the unassigned task. But soon, she becomes a part of NIA, and together, they prove to be a formidable force to lay the foundation for repealing Article 370. Zooni, of course, proves to be the smartest. She has a secret agenda: to avenge her father’s unceremonious killing that passed off as suicide by the authorities.

There are several direct references to many historical aberrations, including the scrapping a subsection of an important clause that grants special status to J&K. Politicians, leaders and historical figures are undoubtedly stalwarts and pathbreakers, but they are as human as any of us, and so, they all make mistakes–some inadvertently, others deliberately. The film goes on to tell us some mishaps, errors and oversights.

The appearance of a rather reticent but enmeshed and participating PM from time to time in abetment with the Home Minister shows a tacit understanding between the two giants whose minds and grasp of politics remains unmatched.

As a film, it justifies the annulment of Article 370 and the complicated web of incidents that caused Kashmiri pandits to flee, incidents of ‘paid’ stone pelting, unwarranted killings, the complicity of militants from Pakistan, to name a few. But the larger point of reference is obviously to prove our government’s reasoning and defence of its unilateral stand on several important decisions involving security of the nation.

Arun Govil, who continues to be known more as Lord Rama for his portrayal of the deity, plays PM Modi with elan, looking like a replica of the leader. Giving him company is Kiran Karmakar as Amit Shah who gets transformed to look exactly like the minister. Yami’s character is made-up but even in the fabricated role, she has enough substance to prove that she could be real.

Cinematographer Siddharth Vasant shows us the Valley in all its grandeur and captures all the scenes in the parliament through his lens with perfect dexterity. Writers Aditya Dhar, Arjun Dhawan and Jambhale use high class production values and finesse to perhaps serve the young minds who would throng the theatres to learn – and unlearn- about the account of the times gone by as a well-chronicled thriller. Shashwat Sachdev has composed one song that captures the minds of the young as a pop patriotic number.

Film: Article 370

Cast: Yami Gautam. Arun Govil, Priymani

Director: Aditya Subhas Jhambhale

Cinematography: Siddhart Vasant

Duration: !60 minutes

IANS Rating: **


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