In the last half an hour of the movie Article 21, we see the introduction of a character named Lenin, played by Bineesh Kodiyeri. He explains a law that assures education for kids under the age of 15. It started off as a bland explanation of basic law, but that scene eventually ended up being a miserable advertisement for the state government. There was a collective pffff among the audience towards that scene, and that reaction is pretty much what you feel about the whole movie.
The movie is about the homeless family of a Tamil immigrant named Thamarai. She has two sons, Muthu and Dalapathi. Her husband is in jail, and the family earns a living by collecting scrap. Things took a turn when the kids found a school bag, and the younger one started having this desire to study. What we see in the movie is the efforts made by the family, with the help of some well-wishers, to get a chance for the kids to learn.
In the initial moments of the film, when we get a detailed closer look at the routine life of this family, we get a feeling that the movie will explore more in making us understand their journey. But the climax of the movie, which wants the film to be just an awareness campaign, just takes out all the possible complexities from the story, and the poverty and miseries you see on screen feel more like an excuse to hide unimaginative filmmaking. Predictability is a major issue, especially when things are going in favor of the characters.
Lenaa, as Thamarai with all that tanned makeup, looks apt for the part, and the body language and the dialogue delivery were also perfect. The two kids, played by Leswin and Nandan Rajesh, have that enthusiasm we expect in the characters. But the dialogue delivery in most of the places felt pretty artificial. Aju Varghese plays the role of this communist auto-driver whose social work style is borderline utopian. Joju George is also there in a cameo role.
Lenin Balakrishnan is interested in capturing life very closely in the initial moments of the movie. But almost from the beginning of the second act of the film, he starts to skip through the scenes. The detailing you see in that scene where the family becomes happy seeing an attached bathroom was the one they should have followed for the entire movie. But the unrealistic optimism and punch dialogue-driven fixing of reality just take out the life from the movie. The overall production quality of the movie in terms of visuals and sound is on the superior side.
Article 21 belongs to that category of movies that uses the excuse of being socially committed as a shield to cover its politically compromised and craft-lacking filmmaking. At best, it’s a good government ad campaign that used its budget on production quality rather than craft and writing.
At best, it’s a good government ad campaign that used its budget on production quality rather than craft and writing.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended