Directed by: #SaurabhArora
Written by: Saurabh Arora
Dramas built around real events have a fine line to walk, to pay respect to historical accuracy but also to create an engaging film that may have to take liberties to tell the best story. Almost every film based around a historical event or biopic needs to allow for wiggle room but the intention is to allow the audience to experience and empathise with the reality that was lived through. Writer-director Saurabh Arora fails in achieving this with The Article, a short film which follows a journalist’s bravery in reporting abuses committed during the Delhi riots. Investigative journalism which holds the powerful to account has always been a precarious profession with Daphne Caruana Galizia and Jamal Khashoggi’s murders in the last few years being tragic, horrifying examples. Journalists across the globe bravely report against atrocities, representatives to truth and justice but Arora lacks the reverence and respect to this reality to build a film around it.
The film feels generic as if the filmmakers hope that the backdrop of the Delhi riots will make it stand out on name alone but it lacks a personal connection. Even the opening of b-roll and figures just makes it seem mundane, the film lacks specifics and doesn’t inform its story around what motivated this violence and destruction. The audience can’t learn or empathise, leaving little interest in the character’s motivations to expose what’s happening. The journalist played by Rashmi Arora’s also lacks character, the script is absent of personality and heart and does little to make The Article a compelling portrait of a moral quest to do the right thing. The pacing doesn’t work as Arora can’t build any tension around the violence of the riots or the journalist’s safety. She is threatened over the phone, has self-doubts on whether to publish but none of it flows together, again the film just feels like a checklist in covering what a journalist goes through in the banalest way possible.
There is no emotional connection for the audience; to it’s underwritten characters, to the underdeveloped stakes or to the events that have inspired the film. It’s a hollow story that can’t draw an audience in or keep them invested. The filmmaking also doesn’t immerse as only a few shots Arora creates gives the sense of the dread that the Journalist feels but never capitalises on it. The Article mostly consisting of bland shots of the character typing at a laptop or speaking over the phone. Sound design and performance are also lacking with exposition and motivation being delivered through poorly performed phone conversations, the overly sentimental music that plays over the film doesn’t do Arora any favours.
A disappointment in how cynical it seems to be in using actual events and incidents to create an underwhelming and monotonous film. The Article doesn’t highlight and champion the heroism of journalism, Arora may have been well-intentioned in the development of the film but the final product can’t properly recognise the sacrifices of what inspired it.