Director: Raghu Samarth
Cast: Ragini Prajwal, Achyuth Kumar, Avinash
For a while — just a little while — there’s something intriguing about Law, written and directed by Raghu Samarth. The opening stretch introduces us to Nandini (Ragini Prajwal), who’s been gang-raped by three men. But unlike other women in our cinema who find themselves in this plight, she doesn’t come across as a “victim”. There’s something steely about her. Her face has a bruise, but no tears. When she flags down a car, she asks to be taken not to a hospital but to a police station. The cops there are cracking misogynistic jokes and Nandini’s father himself looks like he’d be happier if she didn’t file a case. He seems worried about the media and public scrutiny that will doubtless ensue. His logic is that the system is too powerful, too corrupt, so it’s best to back off. Time will heal it all, he says. But Nandini calls him on his BS.
The typical beats of this kind of movie (think Pink, most recently) are all there. We’ll learn that the perpetrators have powerful connections. We’ll slowly move to a courtroom drama, and the defence lawyer (Rajesh Nataranga) will do his best to smear Nandini’s reputation. At one point, he says she was a sex worker in London, and noting her outrage, he asks her to consider how his clients must feel about their reputations being smeared by her. This is also a movie with a twist, and the interval point is set up to make you wonder who the real victim is.
The film, alas, is terribly written and executed. Even if you ignore the mood-killing song and the cringy comedy (someone who pronounces “files” as “piles”), it’s very hard to stay invested in these drab, borderline-nonsensical proceedings. The knowing reaction shots (meant to mislead us) get unbearable after a point. I liked the idea of using social media to rally support, and also the fact that society does not seem to judge or blame Nandini for whatever happened to her. But the amateurish handling kills every positive you can think of. In a better movie, you’d wonder whether the means justify the end, but here, everyone’s a one-dimensional cardboard character and I couldn’t even bring myself to care. Law is further proof that good intentions can never triumph over bad filmmaking.