Article 370 Review: Yami Gautam and Priya Mani power an intense drama on J&K's special status

Film: Article 370

Cast: Yami Gautam, Priya Mani, Vaibhav Tatwawadi

Director: Aditya Jambhale

Rating: 4 Moons

The abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019, was a historic moment. The section in the Constitution provided the people of Jammu & Kashmir special rights. The abrogation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah received polarised reactions. Aditya Jambhale, a National Award-winning director, weaves an engaging story of the key happenings that led to the removal of Article 370. 

Article 370 tells the story from the point of view of Zooni Haksar (Yami Gautam), a Kashmiri Muslim working for the Indian intelligence. She is reeling from the grief of her father's suicide. After moving out of Kashmir, she begins a new life. Zooni, a sharpshooter and a brilliant intelligence agent, lands in trouble for the killing of Burhan Wani. Months of staying inactive after the incident, she is onboard the National Intelligence Agency in Srinagar. Rajeshwari (Priya Mani) is an authority at the PMO office; she is Zooni's senior. Joining hands, they execute one of the major happenings in Kashmir smoothly. 

The story looks back at the entire process, backstory and revolt. Director Aditya, whose Marathi short films Aaba Aiktaay Naa? and Kharvas won National Awards, balances the narrative on the thin rope of propaganda and facts. He manages well by not making it a hardcore propaganda film or a docu-series. Drama, patriotism and applaud-worthy moments keep one hooked to the screen for 160 minutes. Article 370 is an intense drama with fewer lighter moments. The pace feels sluggish due to the heaviness that's inevitable in a film of this nature. However, Aditya doesn't compromise on the entertainment quotient. The first half builds the set-up for the upcoming edge-of-the-seat drama. With constant happenings on-ground and within the PMO office, there's a comforting balance between the parallels. 

Yami Gautam wears Zooni like her second skin. She gets deep into the character and her emotional traumas and journey effortlessly. The actress commands attention when she's at war and makes one feel deeply for Zooni's melancholy and helplessness. Yami pulls off the action neatly and be prepared for some claps and cheers. She deserves all the love and accolades for Article 370.

Priya Mani is a graceful performer and Article 370 is yet another reflection. She carries Rajeshwari with a certain dignity and calmness. There's a lot more to her character than just being an authority at the PMO. Priya is the calm before the storm; watch out for her excellently executed facial gestures and body language. Her sarees shall start a separate fan base among the fashion police.

Vaibhav Tatwawadi shines in a brief yet crucial role. Kiran Karmarkar is a scene stealer as Home Minister Amit Shah. He hits the bull's-eye with the accent, mannerisms and look. Arun Govil is unrecognisable as PM Narendra Modi. 

Article 370 is an intense retelling of the abrogation. It is thoroughly engaging and entertaining, yet informative for those who have less knowledge of Indian political happenings and chronology. Powered by fantastic performances, this one is a solid entertainer.