Movie: Section 375

Cast: Akshaye Khanna, Richa Chadda, Meera Chopra, Rahul Bhat

Director: Ajay Bahl

Section 375 IPC. Whenever we hear this or talk about it, we know we are about to talk about the most horrific and gruesome kind of crime that can ever be done against a woman. As per the Indian Penal Code (IPC), a man is said to commit “rape” who, except case hereinafter excepted, has sexual intercourse with a woman in circumstances falling under any of the six following descriptions:-

1) Against her will.

2) Without her consent.

3) With her consent, when her consent has been obtained by putting her or any person in whom she is interested, in fear of death or of hurt.

4) With her consent, when the man knows that he is not her husband, and that her consent is given because she believes that he is another man to whom she is or believes herself to be lawfully married.

5) With her consent, when, at the time of giving such consent, by reason of unsoundness of mind or intoxication or the administration by him personally or through another of any stupefying or unwholesome substance, she is unable to understand the nature and consequences of that to which she gives consent.

6) With or without her consent, when she is under sixteen years of age.

Exception – Penetration is sufficient to constitute the sexual intercourse necessary to the offence of rape.

Exception. –– Sexual intercourse by a man with his own wife, the wife not being under fifteen years of age, is not rape.

When the trailer of Section 375 came out with a very fine actor like Akshaye Khanna in it, we all anticipated that it had the potential to be a movie as big as Amitabh Bachchan’s ‘Pink’ if fed with the right content and screenplay. So does Section 375 manage to do that? Let’s find out –

The story begins with a woman Anjali Dangle, played by Meera Chopra, a young and aspiring costume designer in the Bollywood industry who wishes to touch the sky with her work, the only problem being that she doesn’t know how. In the process, however, she makes it as an assistant in a film project helmed by director Rohan Khurana, ably played by Rahul Bhat. The narrative starts by how Anjali is one day asked to go to the director’s house to show him the new costumes for the next schedule of the movie. As Anjali appears in front of Rohan, Rohan ogles at Anjali like a serious predator in his own ways and starts an act of physical domination of s*x against her consent. A devasted Anjali leaves the house in intense shock and horror, as she covers herself with deep agony inside her heart. When her brother gets to find out about her sister being raped, he resists his anger but ultimately seeks help and support from the police to investigate. As investigations begin, Rohan is put behind bars and his helpless wife comes to senior lawyer Tarun Saluja (Akshaye Khanna) for help. Initially Tarun finds it difficult to take the case because all the evidence is against Rohan, from semen samples inside the victim’s vagina to injury marks on the body and thighs, everything seems to be going against Rohan. But after reading the case in details, Akshaye finds a specific loophole which makes him believe that Rohan is not guilty of ‘rape’ at least.

Soon, the court room drama begins and it’s Akshaye Khanna aka Tarun Saluja as Defence Lawyer for Rohan Khurana vs Richa Chadda aka Miss Gandhi who fights as the public prosecutor. With several rounds of investigations and in-depth hearing, the case seems to be bouncing like a ball from one side to the other. While on one hand, it evidently looks like it’s sheer rape and nothing else, another angle makes the case look twisted and makes it look like it’s consensual and passionate s*x and there’s no ‘rape’ involved. Eventually, for multiple reasons, it is found that Rohan Khurana is guilty of having done many things. Now whether it also involves ‘rape’ or not is something one can get only after watching. Too many questions arise, however. Rape or no rape? Misuse of Section 375 or proper use of the law to punish the culprit? All these will be answered.

IWMBuzz Verdict: The story and the screenplay are extremely gripping and it definitely touches upon issues which are extremely relevant to women interests in times of today, where ‘rape’ is still a serous concern. However, it is also to be noted that when it comes to such narratives with such serious issues, it’s always nice not to see too many twists and turns as it kind of deviates the focus from the main purpose which is to act as an eye-opener for women’s issues in India. This is where Section 375 falls flat to an extent. The performances from the actors are good and the sequence planning is decent. But without any doubt, it is the one and only Akshaye Khanna who holds the film together, right from the start till the end. His no nonsense and empirical approach towards the scheme of things is what makes the movie a must watch. However, although it delivers a very good message, it doesn’t manage to live up to its fullest potential as such stories with a realistic approach have great potential always, but it is always the direction and the screenplay which decide the ultimate fortune. For example, we had Aamir Khan’s ‘Taare Zameen Par’, which was a fantastic movie about children and education, and we also had ‘Paathshala’, which had the potential to be a ‘Taare Zameen Par’ but missed out by only a fair margin. It is the same for Section 375 and Pink. However, one must watch the movie and understand that it is of utmost importance for every Indian to be 200% aware of rape laws in the country. And Section 375 will definitely work as a bonzer forerunner for the same.

3/5 stars