A film about forgiveness and love, to one about special agents preventing terrorist attacks. Jump to the biggest sleeper hit of 2018 — a film about a Muslim family fighting to prove its loyalty to the country after losing a son to terrorism. Mulk raised questions, it made people think, hesitate and speak for or against it. And it also brought out a new colour of Anubhav Sinha. And this year, the filmmaker raised the stakes like no other with Article 15.
In an interview with Man’s World in August this year, Sinha candidly spoke about his shift in genres. “I consciously made the shift. The only shift that happened — when I look back and analyse — is that, now, I’m not designing films for the box office. I’m saying what I want to say and this is the kind of films I’m making. Films have become more personal now,” he had said.
This is the same candour with which he decided to make Article 15, a film that highlights Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex and place of birth. The filmmaker brought to life a problem deeply rooted in the Indian society to screen in a way that left most people dumbfounded, and an air of awareness in even the most aware of us, set the conversation going. Sinha’s attraction to stories that are so deeply grounded in reality has given the current film scenario a story that countless go through every day, from villages to even in medical colleges.
An engineering graduate, Sinha has spoken about how his filmmaking didn’t align with the person that he is, and the stories that he wanted to tell barely had “star value”, he felt. At the same time, the societal shift was not aligning with his views, so he backed off even more, directing and producing films that brought him nothing. Until one day he decided to go for the stories he wanted to tell.
What also makes Sinha’s thought process stand out is his understanding of what the society needs now: reality checks more than cheques. He has openly admitted to not making films for the box office, and brought to light how a story as “angry” (his words, not ours) as Article 15 can make money, be mainstream with an actor like Ayushmann Khurrana killing it, and start an important conversation that needs to go beyond the newspaper’s pages. “The film says something that hasn’t been said in the public domain. I always say that making a mainstream film is always more difficult than making an indie film because in the latter format, you give a damn. But with mainstream, you are fighting various battles like box office collection and weekends and all that,” he said.