On 20th February, while addressing a rally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsed Aditya Suhas Jambhale’s “Article 370” as the movie to get ‘correct information’ about the government’s stance on the complex geopolitical scenario of Kashmir. Namely the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which previously allowed Kashmir autonomy. One of the film’s producers is filmmaker Aditya Dhar, who also co-wrote the film. Remember Dhar’s directorial debut was “Uri: The Surgical Strike” (2019), based on the 2016 Uri Attack and its retaliation. “Uri” worked wonders at the box office, and it also worked wonders for the ruling party’s (Narendra Modi-led BJP) chances in the 2019 election.

Fast forward five years, and we have another election this year. And lo and behold, we have a film that has the nation’s governing body’s endorsement and has the titillating prospect of chest-thumping at the expense of our neighbor, Pakistan. At this point, it is obvious that “Article 370” is a justification piece for the ruling party. A justification for all the wrong-doings while portraying the Prime Minister and the Home Minister of our country as the heroes we need.

The film introduces Zooni Haksar (Yami Gautam), a steadfast order-defying agent who immediately cements herself as the terrorist-fighting-hero in the Kashmir valley by killing the Militant leader, Burhan Wani. An act that triggers civil unrest in Kashmir as Burhan Wani had a mass following in the region. The script blames that on Wani’s suave online personality and the gullible Kashmiris who are brainwashed by Pakistan. The story shows Kashmiri politicians as corrupt, Kashmiri bureaucrats as ineffective, and Kashmiri locals as sheep flocking to the calls of Pakistan. All these to justify the extreme measures of the ruling party. Whether it is imposing curfews and restricting Internet and telecommunication access or putting Kashmiri politicians under house arrest. All of these are tactfully justified in the film, with the usual hatred reserved for Pakistan.

“Article 370” has a two-pronged attack on the anti-BJP faction of the country. The first and obvious prong is the justification for getting rid of Article 370. The film and Jambhale’s direction are blunt in that aspect. Starting with Ajay Devgn’s narration that defines Article 370 as a diplomatic fallacy from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister and often the first person to be blamed by current PM Narendra Modi.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

The film employs some subtle but clever casting. First, it casts Arun Govil as Modi, resonating with the feeling that Modi is an avatar of Lord Ram. Then, it casts Sumit Kaul as Pakistan’s spy, Yakub Sheikh. For those who do not make the connection yet, Kaul is a known face for portraying the Pakistani soldier who utters, “Zanab, Hindustan me kya chal raha hai?” in a viral perfume ad. It plays on the audience’s psyche.

Article 370 (2024) 'Netflix' Movie Review
Yami Gautam stars as Zooni haksar in “Article 370” (2024) streaming on Netflix.

The film is quite smart in that. In fact, it is probably the best propaganda film since “Uri.” Aditya Dhar has a knack for producing goods that would unabashedly do the bidding of the ruling party, but it would not be totally crass. The second and not-immediately-obvious prong is the glorious excuses that the film portrays as the reasons for the ruling party’s many undemocratic actions.

The film shows why it is right to impose the President’s rule abruptly. “Article 370” shows how it is in the country’s interest not to always think about human rights and further emphasizes that it is okay to have the state governor do the central government’s bidding. Journalists not toeing the government line are nuisances. International forces questioning the Indian government attack the country’s sovereignty. Demonetization hurt terrorist funding. There are numerous references to sugarcoat the failures and justify the wrongs.

Yami Gautam is earnestly loud in her portrayal of Zooni. There is a sincerety in her eyes that can only be originated from personal beliefs. Priyamani is stiff but convincing in her portrayal of Joint Secretary Rajeshwari Swaminathan. With its two and a half hours of duration, the film takes its time to reach its destination of removing the eponymous article. It takes time to establish the villains of the story. With Pakistan and Pakistan-backed militant leaders taking the bulk of the blame, the film squarely reserves some blame for the opposition party as well. They get their deserved lecture from the Home Minister and Prime Minister by the end of the film.

It is difficult, bordering on the impossible, to separate the politics and critique the film only. As the film’s existence is to fan the agenda of a political party. With 2024 being an election year, it is expected that there will be films and TV shows to highlight each individual agenda of the incumbent party. Perhaps if the top officials did more press conferences then the necessity for such films would not arise. But those were different days. “Article 370” is perhaps the best of the lot when it comes to that.

Read More: Article 370: OTT Release Date & Where to Stream

Article 370 (2024) Movie Links: IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Wikipedia, Letterboxd
The Cast of Article 370 (2024) Movie: Yami Gautam, Priyamani, Skand Thakur, Ashwini Kaul, Vaibhav Tatwawadi, Arun Govil, Kiran Karmarkar
Article 370 (2024) Movie Genre: Action, Thriller, Drama | Runtime: 160 Mins
Where to watch Article 370

Similar Posts