In the film “Section 375”, Akshaye Khanna plays Tarun Saluja, a criminal lawyer who gets assigned to defend director Rohan Ravi Khurana after he is accused of raping a costume assistant, Anjali Vasudev Dangle. The story plays out with Tarun fighting Rohan’s case against public prosecutor Hiral Mehta (played by Richa Chadha), who is fighting for Anjali’s case. As is the case with any courtroom drama, the tension in the courts inevitably spills out the lawyers, as they struggle to separate their personal thoughts and emotions from their profession as legal representatives.
It’s safe to say that Akshaye’s character does not let his emotions get in the way of his job or the Indian constitution. Though Tarun faces backlash from the public for defending a sexual assaulter and accusing Anjali of lying, he maintains the divisive opinion that even a convicted rapist has the constitutional right to a proper legal defense. In another clip from the trailer, Tarun privately tells Hiral, “We’re not in the business of justice. We’re in the business of law.” So when I ask Akshaye how he feels playing a lawyer that acts as a devil’s advocate of sorts, the actor is quick to correct that he is actually playing “the advocate of an accused devil.”
Akshaye is more than aware of how divisive his character comes across before the film has even had its cinematic release. “It is a character that people, after watching the film, might feel is a little grey, his moral compass isn’t working too well. But that’s the job of a promo, it shows you a little bit of the big picture and then it leaves you with questions and doubts. People will take different things away from the promo. Those assumptions are very normal, very natural,” says Akshaye. But rather than focus on those assumptions, the actor is more eager to see what audiences’ reactions will be after they see the film. According to Akshaye, the film sets out to simply tell a story and not take any sides.
“It really puts the onus on the audience. That’s a great achievement as far as writing is concerned. Especially when you’re dealing with a subject that people feel very strongly about, and rightly so. I think it’s quite unique.”
According to the actor, viewers can expect to be treated to a truly gripping story when they watch “Section 375.” “It’s almost like sitting in a real courtroom watching a case unravel in front of your eyes. Like any good courtroom drama, there will be many times during the course of the film where you expect something will happen and then the exact opposite happens,” says Akshaye. “It is a courtroom drama but it’s also very much plays out almost like a thriller, which adds to how much people will be engrossed in it.”
“Section 375” is directed by Ajay Bahl and stars Akshaye Khanna, Richa Chadha, and Meera Chopra. It’s slated to release in theatres across the UAE this Thursday, September 12.