Section 375 (also known as Section 375: Marzi Ya Zabardasti) is a 2019 Indian Hindi-language courtroom drama film produced by Kumar Mangat Pathak, Abhishek Pathak and SCIPL, written by Manish Gupta and directed by Ajay Bahl. It is based on Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code laws in India. The film stars Akshaye Khanna, Richa Chadha, Meera Chopra and Rahul Bhat. Principal photography of the film began in January 2019.
|Directed by||Ajay Bahl|
|Written by||Manish Gupta|
|Cinematography||Sudhir K. Chaudhary|
|Edited by||Praveen Angre|
|Box office||est. ₹12.35 crore|
The film was theatrically released in India on 13 September 2019, and received mixed reviews, holding a 64% Critics Rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film opened to low numbers on opening day and was declared "Average" at box office.
Notable film director Rohan Khurana (Rahul Bhat) is arrested and convicted by a sessions court after assistant costume designer Anjali Dangle (Meera Chopra) accuses him of rape. In the High Court, senior and talented criminal barrister Tarun Saluja (Akshaye Khanna) works hard to punch holes in the accuser’s claims, while Hiral Gandhi (Richa Chadda), a utopian and fervent lawyer fighting her first big case, who was once Saluja's trainee, serve as the prosecutor and defence barrister of the claimed victim. Tarun Saluja goes by his principle Law is a fact, Justice is abstract. & lawyer should not get emotionally involved in the case or get into the debate of what is right or wrong. Tarun Saluja explains Hiral Gandhi that how justice is left out without proper defence. The pursuit of justice is nothing but a career opportunity for the defence lawyer, prosecution & the judges as well. He summaries this with his line " We're in the business of law, not of Justice". This is completely contrary to Hiral's attitude who gets passionately involved in her pursuit to deliver justice. For this very reason, she has quit the law firm of Tarun.
Tarun in his cross-examination exposes tampering of evidence, lies & facts hidden by key witnesses. It is later clear that Anjali had consensual relation with Rohan which started with the pressure of retaining her job, but with time she got emotionally involved in the relationship. Later when she realises that Rohan is only interested in keeping a physical relationship with her whereas she was expecting him to be her life partner. There is a big argument between the two on this issue. Rohan belittles her & tells her that without him her career is over. Later Rohan throws her out of his second flat where they pursued their relationship. After a couple of days, Anjali apologises to Rohan & they rekindle their relationship. Later in the day, she reports this incident as rape to police.
Insisting that it is a case of an affair gone sour, Tarun Saluja points out that the law does not regard consensual physical relations as rape. Hiral Gandhi argues that though a couple may have had a consensual relationship in the past, any subsequent sexual encounter without consent of the girl is rape. The case disputes the legal provisions of the penal code 375 that defines conditions under which a sexual offence can be defined as rape.
The judges are put in a tough spot because on one hand, it is clear that Anjali had filed this case to take avenge her humiliation & on the other hand there is a strong public perception that rich & influential people are exploiting the underprivileged people. The two judges deliberate on the case in their chamber. A judgement in favour of Tarun would badly reflect on their credentials however, circumstantial evidence clearly points to fake rape charges. One of the judges peeks from the balcony and see protests against the accused going out of control and it is clear what their judgement would be. The bench while delivering the verdict accepts the merit of the case presented by Tarun however, they give into the public sentiment & strictly go by the book. They uphold the session court judgement which states that since there is no evidence of consent or force for this particular incident, so the statement of the victim is considered as paramount evidence. Rohan's wife indicates to him that she will not aid him anymore, and leaves. Tarun promises Rohan that he will approach the High Court immediately. Rohan is taken to prison, and Anjali confesses in secret to Hiral that what Tarun had said in the court was true and she did this only to get revenge at Rohan. Hiral is shocked by this, and later she is invited for dinner by Tarun's family. There Tarun reminds her "We're in the business of law, not of Justice" which she now truly understands.
- Akshaye Khanna as Tarun Saluja, defence barrister of the accused
- Richa Chadda as lawyer and public prosecutor Hiral Gandhi
- Meera Chopra as victim Anjali Dangle
- Rahul Bhat as Director Rohan Khurana
- Shriswara as Kainaz Khurana, Rohan's wife
- Sandhya Mridul as Shilpa Saluja, Tarun's wife
- Kishor Kadam as Justice Madgaonkar
- Kruttika Desai as Justice Indrani
- Annuup Choudhari as Pramod Dangle, Anjali's brother
- Tanuka Laghate as Meera Singh
- Kshama Ninave as Mrs. Dangle, Anjali's mother
- Nishank Verma as Shekhar
Marketing and releaseEdit
The first poster of the film was released by its makers on 7 August 2019. On 5 September, a dialogue promo presenting Khanna was released.
The film was premiered at Singapore South Asian International Film Festival (SgSAIFF) on 7 September 2019. It was closing film of the festival and received appreciation. The film was theatrically released in India on 13 September 2019.
Sreeparna Sengupta of The Times of India gave the film four stars out of five, praising screenplay, dialogues and performance of Akshaye Khanna, Richa Chadha, Rahul Bhat and Kishor Kadam, noted that the film made for a 'gripping watch with a crisp runtime and top-notch performances'. Concluding she wrote, "Overall, Section 375 is an audacious effort. It is a relevant film that tackles a complex issue and one that will engage, inform and open up debates." Trade analyst and critic Taran Adarsh gave the film four stars out of five, tagged it as "Powerful" and praised the performance of Akshaye Khanna, Richa Chadha, writing and direction. He opined, "A relevant film that raises pertinent points... Recommended!" Udita Jhunjhunwala of Firstpost gave three and half stars out of five and opined that it was the cinematography and editing that kept the film moving at desirable pace and in mood. Praising Manish Gupta’s writing, she concluded that the film neither took a shrill, moralistic stand, nor caved to 'Bollywood-ised courtroom hysteria', rather it stuck to a highly charged narrative that deftly examined both sides of the case and deferred to the rule of law.
Devesh Sharma reviewing for Filmfare rates the film with three stars out of five. He wrote that the film was a 'well-crafted', 'well-acted' film with pithy and witty dialogues. He praised performance of Khanna and Chadha, but criticising the climax, concluded, “This criminal twist at the very end undoes all the good done by the film and leaves you with a bitter taste in the mouth. The director is trying to be too clever here but this cleverness eats away into the nobility of the film." Manjusha Radhakrishnan of Gulf News gave three and half stars out of five, concurring in praising lead cast she wrote, "Both Khanna and Chadha are in top form as warring legal counsels". She also praised the editing of the film and noted that film was off-beat, but concurring with Sharma she felt that the second half was made 'frustratingly convenient'. Concluding she opined, "While you may not be thrilled at where the film is headed, the right thing to do is to give the searing Section 375 a fair trial." Writing for CNN-News18, Rajeev Masand termed the film as an 'unmistakably compelling courtroom drama' and rated it with three and half stars out of five. He noted that director Ajay Bahl and writer Manish Gupta have made a 'sharp, thought-provoking drama' which is topical and conscious of the situation prevailing. Concluding, he opined, "It’s a well-made film with a persuasive argument that is nevertheless disturbing."
Section 375 collected ₹14.5 million (US$200,000) on the opening day, and ₹30.7 million (US$430,000) on the second day, whereas the third day collection was ₹35.2 million (US$490,000), taking its total opening weekend collection to ₹80.4 million (US$1.1 million).
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- Taran Adarsh [@taran_adarsh] (12 September 2019). "#OneWordReview... #Section375: POWERFUL. Rating: 4/5 Engaging courtroom drama... Writing and direction top notch... Akshaye Khanna, Richa Chadha brilliant... Meera Chopra, Rahul Bhat first-rate... A relevant film that raises pertinent points... Recommended! #Section375Review t.co/Jc3DUlCgaZ" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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- Rajeev, Rajeev (14 September 2019). "Section 375 Movie Review: Akshaye Khanna, Richa Chadha's Performances Make for Compelling Courtroom Drama". CNN-News18. Retrieved 14 September 2019.