A Mediocre Slice Of Life Film
Set in the heart of the Chawls in Mumbai, India, 15 August is a heartwarming slice of life film set during the annual celebration of India’s independence. With two predominant stories running throughout and a film that throws both slapstick humour and familial drama into the fold, 15 August is let down by an over-long run time and a tonally inconsistent narrative.
The story here sees a painter called Raju conflicted over his life and in particular, love interest Jui. After getting engaged to her, all seems well for them until she loses the ring down a small hole in the town square. Enlisting the help of a young boy to get the ring out of the hole, the boy gets his hand stuck, ultimately setting the foundation for most of the drama to follow. What begins as a simple problem quickly spirals out of control as the community come together to try to free the boy’s hand whilst coming up with more and more elaborate solutions to free him.
Around the midway point of the film, the attention shifts slightly as Jui becomes conflicted between her family commitments and Raju. This split focus brings up some interesting juxtapositions for the rest of the film, as the outside community represent the poorer members of Indian society whilst the family inside reflect the values of a different social class, shedding light on the arranged marriage culture so prevalent in India. All of this builds toward a lovely little patriotic ending where things are wrapped up with a neat little Bollywood bow.
Stylistically, there’s some really nice camera work here. The numerous overhead shots work really well too with one in particular, cutting from the community outside to the neatly arranged cups of tea inside, really helping to emphasize this cultural difference. The tunneled vision for the hole early on shows a nice bit of foreshadowing too, with the marble and ring both representing these different social classes we follow during the second half of the film.
Unfortunately, 15 August is not likely to be a film that’ll stick with you when the credits roll. While the message about India’s independence is a good one, the film does also feel overlong, with most of the comedy and drama revolving around the young boy’s arm wearing thin far too early into the film’s run time. Raju and Jui’s story is certainly an interesting one though and despite the fractured nature of their narrative, this drama feels jarring next to the comedy running through the overarching narrative. 15 August is not a bad film but it’s also not a particularly memorable one either, making this a mediocre effort next to other Indian films.