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19(1)(a) movie review: Nithya Menen, Vijay Sethupathi shine in this political drama

19(1)(a) movie review: Nithya Menen, Vijay Sethupathi, Indrajith Sukumaran and Indrans have delivered a very nuanced performance in the movie, which talks about some heavy emotional and political matters.

19(1)(a)19(1)(a) is streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar.

Director Indhu V.S’s first feature film is titled 19(1)(a). 19(1)(a) is the article in the Indian Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and expression. And Indhu’s intimate film attempts to take stock of the condition of freedom of expression in the country.

Nithya Menen plays the protagonist. Her character doesn’t have a name in the movie. She is standing in for an entire section of women in society who have been conditioned to just do what they are told. Sample this: the protagonist manages a Xerox shop. One morning writer Gauri Sankar, played by Vijay Sethupathi, walks into her shop and hands her his latest manuscript. He asks her to get a photocopy of the whole book. “I will return today to collect it. Wait for me even if it gets a little late,” Gauri tells the protagonist. And she does wait for him till late in the night, alone in a shop. She seemingly can’t even go against the words of a total stranger. We can only imagine how docile she would be with her family and friends.

And Gauri is the exact opposite of our protagonist. He’s naturally inclined to swim against the tide. He’s a rebel, a writer and an activist. Even when he finds out there is a threat to his life due to the way he goes about living it, he refuses to change his stance.

Gauri never turns up to collect his manuscript as he gets shot by bike-borne gunmen. Indhu develops the sound of the silencer of the old motorbike into a theme in itself. We hear the menacing sound of the speeding bike in the very opening moments of the movie followed by a gunshot. And in various points in the movie, Indhu repeats that sound as she elaborates on that theme, giving it a feel of a monster on the prowl targeting those who indulge in the freedom of expression without any reservation.

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19(1)(a) also has a tragic theme about people grieving the loss of their loved ones. The film shows how the benign and seemingly unremarkable words said by people, will gain drastic significance if those were the last words ever spoken by them. The casual conversation she had with Gauri becomes the guiding light for the protagonist when she is grappling in darkness while carrying the huge burden of Gauri’s final words on her untrained shoulders.

Nithya Menen, Vijay Sethupathi, Indrajith Sukumaran and Indrans have delivered a very nuanced performance in the movie, which talks about some heavy emotional and political matters. Composer Govind Vasantha’s soulful music blends well into the narration and becomes a character in itself.

19(1)(a) is streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar.

First published on: 29-07-2022 at 04:04:06 pm
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