Article 370 – My Flash Review & more!

5th of August, 2019. I remember the day very well. It was just over two months into Narendra Modi’s second term.  The morning newspapers carried reports of abnormal troop movements on the J&K border. Just a few days ago, the Amarnath Yatra was called off suddenly on grounds of security.  There was also news of the internet and communication being shut down in many parts of J&K.  BJP also had issued a one-line whip to all their MPs in both houses to be present. So, we all could sense that something was cooking.

Just in Feb 2019, we had a dastardly suicide bomber attack by a Pak-based terror group on a CRPF convoy that took more than 40 lives. A retaliatory Indian air strike on Balakot in Pakistan immediately followed this.  The question in many minds, therefore, was what was cooking anew. There were speculations galore, but nobody saw what was actually coming. By the afternoon, it hit the MPs in the parliament and the nation at large that the Modi-led government was tabling a resolution in the Rajya Sabha to abrogate Article 370. By then it was a case of shock and awe!


Truth be told, for those born in the last century and closely following politics in India, it was difficult to think that any government would or could actually abrogate Article 370.  Though for the ruling party, the BJP, repealing Article 370 has been a lifelong obsession and kept appearing in its manifesto, actually repealing it was a case of fuelling the fire. All these years, the narrative has been that Article 370 cannot be touched without the J&K assembly passing a suitable resolution. So, when Amit Shah, the Home Minister rose from his seat in the parliament with files and papers with multi-coloured notes and tabled the resolution to abrogate Article 370, the first response from the opposition and everyone in the country was – how did the Modi sarkar do it?

When details slowly started coming in by the end of the day of how the government went about the legalities to get Article 370 out of the way, the feeling among even the common public was a sense of elation. It was clear that the Modi-led government had done comprehensive homework to look at all the issues from legal, political, security, financial and foreign relations angles and pulled this off without much backlash, even in Kashmir. Even from a timing point of view, it did it right at the beginning of its second term when it was still enjoying the air of a renewed mandate. Looking back, I feel that if it had not been done, it would have gotten into limbo with Covid paralysing the country from 2020 to the end of 2022 and getting into election mode in 2023.

With very few details coming out of how the whole operation was carried out, it was always intriguing to imagine how the government went about repealing Article 370 and managing the fallout of the same. Therefore, I was keen to watch the film Article 370, which hit the theatres on the 22nd of February. I watched it, and here is My Flash Review of the same:

Though the disclaimer at the start of the film says that it is inspired by true events but fictionalised for adaptation to cinema, it is not difficult to understand when facts become fiction or vice versa. At the outset, the film Article 370 is a puff piece that is complimentary about the present government and its actions and makes no pretence of being anything else. Having said that, the film is made exceptionally well, with the screenplay structured very interestingly to marry fact and fiction. Article 370 follows a whole number of recent films in the genre of being propaganda vehicles for the Modi government. The timing of the release, which is just a few months away from the General elections, is, in that sense, not incidental. Nor the casting of Arun Govil, the actor who played the character of Ram in the epic serial – Ramayana as the Prime Minister.  The connections to Ram and Ramrajya are not difficult to miss in this Ram Mandir season.

The film does well in first explaining in layman’s terms the key provisions of Article 370 and then the context setting for its abrogation. Starting with the encounter of Burhan Wani – the Hizbul Mujahideen commander who had built a substantial youth following in the valley, the film introduces the two key characters of the film – both women. Zooni, an Intelligence Agent and Rajeswari, an IAS officer attached to the PMO, are shown to be the two key people working on the project of abrogating Article 370. The rest of the film showcases how the political, legal and security challenges are mitigated along the way to repealing Article 370.

The narrative follows a chapter-wise approach, like in a book, which makes sense in a screenplay that deals with a subject with too many angles. In doing so, it alternates between action sequences in Kashmir and legal/legislative action in Delhi, the underlying theme being utmost secrecy, guile and, of course, an element of surprise.  I don’t think all the decoys being shown in the film actually take place but are passable while seen as part of the film.

The film’s highlight is the performance of the two female leads – Yami Gautam and Priya Mani. As Zooni, a Kashmiri girl with an axe to grind with the local political establishment and now part of the NIA, Yami’s performance is brilliant. She is equally up to it in the action sequences and scenes where emotional beats come into play. Priya Mani, as the IAS officer, anchoring the job at the PMO is equally good. As an actor, she is having a great time in her career with the kind of roles she is landing these days. Kiran Karmatkar, playing the role of Amit Shah, is good and gets most of the applause in the theatre for his lines! In terms of casting, both Karmatkar as Shah and Govil as Modi are on the dot.

The Director, Aditya Jhambale, keeps the proceedings extremely taut and engaging even while a lot of theoretical stuff about provisions and sub-clauses is thrown at us, with some slick editing, action choreography, camera work and pace. But where the film slightly goes off track is when it doesn’t add any nuance to the propagandist narrative. Whether showing almost all the opposition/local politicians in poor light or, tweaking real incidents like the army using a human shield, or changing the identity of the opposition leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to Rohit Thapar, the makers try to be on the right side of politics.  One exception to this is the character arc of the Intelligence sleuth – Khawar Ali, which I liked.

What also comes across as smart thinking by the writing team comprising the Director, producer Aditya Dhar, and Arjun Dhawan is showcasing the whole project as being led by these two women. By this, they didn’t have to get into a sensitive zone related to the actual role played by the political establishment. Also, by not segueing into their personal lives, domestic compulsions or their love interests, the flow is clean and to the point.

The film succeeds in showcasing the repeal of Article 370 as a historic and epic event, which it is, in the history of post-independent India.  That it is made as a taut political thriller and a good one in it is commendable. I would recommend it as a good watch.

Coming to the reality on the ground, except for not conducting the state elections, I think, by and large, the Central government has been able to manage the fallout very well and also sow the seeds for a grand future for Kashmir as a non-disputable part of India. The recent Supreme Court verdict upholding the abrogation has only hastened the path towards that future.

0 thoughts on “Article 370 – My Flash Review & more!”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top