200 Halla Ho: A thought-provoking tale highlighting need to address inequalities in society
New Delhi, August 28, 2021
The real test of a fair legal system is that it should be seen as providing equal protection to all sections of society. If the law is unable to provide protection to any particular section of society then it has no right to mete out punishment to them, says the defense counsel (Amol Palekar) for five women arrested on the charge of murdering a person who was guilty of raping hundreds of women over a period of ten years without the law bringing him to book.
The statement by the lawyer, in the socio-political drama 200 Halla Ho, which is now streaming on Zee5, highlights the continuing inequalities prevailing in society and the inadequacies of the legal system to protect women from the underprivileged sections against the misdemeanours of mobsters who terrorise and murder hapless women with impunity without being booked by the law.
Seventy years ago, Dr B R Ambedkar and the Constituent Assembly of India gave us a Constitution that provides for equality for all citizens regardless of caste, religion or community.
Has the goal of the founding fathers of the Constitution to ensure equality for all in society and under the law been realised as we celebrate 75 years of our independence? This is a question that 200 Halla Ho seems to be posing to the powers that be.
For many of us living in metro cities where access to education to all has seemingly removed all barriers for people from lower castes and underprivileged class to secure jobs and privileged positions, the questions of equality for all under the law may seem irrelevant. However, 200 Halla Ho, based on a true incident, tries to show us that there are parts of India beyond the metros and the big cities which remain bereft of the winds of change -- where temples and religious places continue to be out of bounds for persons from the lower castes; where Dalits are barred entry into homes of upper caste people and where persons from the Dalit and lower castes are objects of ridicule with their complaints of attack, assault and rape at the hands of members of the upper caste falling on deaf ears of the authorities
200 Hallo Ho is the story of years of opression of 200 Dalit women of Raheel Nagar bastee by a local upper caste mobster Balli Chaudhary (Sahil Khattar).
Based on a real-life incident in Nagpur, 200 Halla Ho is the story of women in Raahee Nagar Basti in Nagpur terrorised by the mobster who gangraped, robbed, terrorised and murdered women from about 300 families for 10 years.
200 Halla Ho shows how, after a young Dalit girl Asha Surve (Rinku Rajguru), stands up against years of caste oppression and injustice, these Dalit women one day take the law into their own hands to punish the person who was responsible for ruining their lives.
Directed and co-written by Sarthak Dasgupta, 200 Halla Ho seeks to address the burning issue of systematic opression faced by women from lower castes in several areas of the country. The film highlights that despite the Constitution of India guaranteeing equality for all Indian citizens regardless of caste or region, equality for people of all castes remains just in the pages of the preamble. And that the reality in places other than the metro cities remains grim and vastly different as far as equality for all castes is concerned.
In one of the scenes, ex Justice Vithal Dangde (Amol Palekar), who is defending the five women accused of murdering Balli, says that if the inequalities in the legal system are not addressed soon, street justice would become a norm.
The film tries to raise the pertinent question whether these women's decision to take the law in their own hands when pushed against the wall is right or wrong.
The film highlights the inequalities prevailing in the legal system. For example, while the police is shown to turn a blind eye to the various crimes committed by the mobster against the women of the bastee, they hurriedly identify five women from the bastee as being responsible for the killing of the criminal in their haste to close the case.
Performances are a highlight of this soclo-political drama.
Rinku Rajguru comes up with a spirited act as Asha Surve, whose firm stand against the years of caste oppression, inspires the women of the bastee to raise their voice against years of opression. She takes the first step to stand up against the opression by Balli (Sahuil khattar) which inspired the women of the Bastee to speak out against the injustice meted out to them over the years.
Amol Palekar, who returns to the screen after a long gap, is highly impressive as retired Justice Dangde. He comes up with a subtle and restrained performance as a ex judge who does not believe in highlighting the fact that he is a Dalit judge. Infact, in the film he is shown to believe that just being a Dalit does not make you righteous. In fact, as the head of the fact-finding committee set up to ascertain the facts of the case, he feels that any amount of injustice meted out to you does not justify the murder of a mobster in the courtroom..
Upendra Limaye is effective as inspector Suresh Patil who rounds up five Dalit women randomly from Rahee Nagar locality to bring the case to a conclusion.
Barun Sobti and Saloni Batra are competent in the role of Brahmin lawyer Umesh Joshi, who takes up case of the five Dalit women, and journalist Poorva Sawhney, who is also a member of the fact-finding committee.
The courtroom scenes in the film are engrossing and hold the attention of the viewers.
In a nutshell, 200 Halla Ho is a thought-provoking tale makes one introspect on the need to address inequalities in society.
My rating; 4/5