There is a reason why judgments in courts of law are given based on facts and evidence rather than perception and beliefs. Perceptions can be deceiving, and Gautham Ramchandran and Hariharan Raju know exactly how to trick your sensibilities into believing something which is not entirely true, thereby creating an intriguing narrative. In the first half of the Tamil drama, “Gargi,” the makers paint a balanced picture where you learn about both sides. They attack the prerequisite notions that you have developed and then make you privy to the other side of the coin, which, I must say, is equally convincing. It makes you feel that if you do not base your judgment on admissible evidence and let your emotions obstruct the course of law, then you won’t ever be able to ascertain who is the culprit and who is not.
Gautham Ramachandran’s film plays with your assumptions and somehow makes you realize why media trials are extremely dangerous for any democracy. Yes, I totally agree that there have been cases where, because of the media, many hidden facts have come to light, and somewhere the revelations have made sure that there is no perversion of justice. But it sets a dangerous precedent because, if there is no truth in their speculations, then it puts the life of an innocent person at stake. Who is to be blamed when an innocent person is convicted for the acts that he didn’t do? What happens to the principles of the Indian Justice System, which says that an unbiased investigation and outlook is the basic requirement for any case? The film answers these questions but refrains from impairing its growth. It explores the psychology of the victim’s family, of the accused’s family, and of everybody else who is involved in some or other capacity. The film is not preaching a social message, like many other “content-driven” films have tried to do of late. Rather, Gautham Ramachandran’s film makes you observe and understand, so that you can assess the situation for yourself and then decide what message you can take from it.
Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Gargi came from a humble background. Her father, Brahmanandam, was a security guard in Shanti Apartments, and her mother used to sell batter for dosa. Gargi was a school teacher and, in the evenings, used to take tuition to fend for the financial requirements of her family. Resources might have been scarce, but she was happy with the way life had panned out for her. Gargi vociferously opposed anybody who said anything about her family. Her fiance, Pazhani, was once in the mood to take her case. He told her over a call that he wouldn’t marry her without a dowry. Gargi immediately came to the defense of her father and said that he had already done enough for her. She got so annoyed by the joke that Pazhani had to calm her down. It showed how sensitive and affectionate Gargi was towards her father. She was sitting in the staff room with other teachers when somebody switched on the television. A minor had been raped in Chennai approximately a month back, and the four culprits had been arrested in Khurda railway station in Odisha. Just before the trial began, another development came to light and shook the authorities and the people of the city. There was a fifth culprit that nobody knew about till then.
While all the earlier arrested men hailed from the northern part of India, this last one was a local. Gargi went back home and found that her father hadn’t come back from work. Her sister Aksarah told her that she saw police officers outside Shanti Building, the same place where their father used to work. She came to know that the victim of the rape case stayed in that building. All the workers had been taken to the police station for interrogation. Nobody was giving Gargi a clear picture, and she didn’t even know which police station her father was taken to. Later that night, Sandra, whose father also worked in the same building and shared a good relationship with Brahmanandam, came to Gargi’s house. She told Gargi that she had gotten a call from the police station. She accompanied her and lied to her mother that she was going to see Sandra’s father, as he was admitted to a hospital. Gargi met sub inspector Bennix Jayaraj, who told her that her father was the fifth accused in the rape case of the minor. He told her that he didn’t know where his father was taken to. He gave her advice that, because it was such a sensitive case, it was better if she left the city with her mother. Gargi’s world was coming apart. She couldn’t process the information. She felt that there was definitely some mistake on the part of the authorities, because her father could never commit such a dastardly act.
Gargi called Bhanu Prakash from outside the police station. Bhanu Prakash was one of the eminent lawyers of the city, and Brahmanandam used to work in his house earlier. Since that time, he had known Gargi and had always treated them with the utmost affection. He made a few phone calls and got to know that Brahmanandam was in police custody. He told Gargi that he would come to meet the family the very next day. Coincidentally, Gargi heard a police officer talking about a patient needing diabetic medicine. She knew that her father was in that police station itself because he was also diabetic and had not taken his medicine that day. She goes and peeps inside a room and sees her father sitting there. Sub Inspector Bennix asks somebody to escort Gargi back home. Gargi went to the court and saw the backlash that her father was getting from the general public. The public had already made their decisions. The media had disclosed his identity, violating the laws. Henceforth, everybody knew who the fifth accused was.
Bhanu Prakash was pressured by the Advocate Association to drop the case. He wanted to help Gargi, but he didn’t have the courage to go against the association and put his career in jeopardy. Gargi doesn’t know what she would do. Indrans Kaliyaperumal, who worked as an assistant to Bhanu Prakash, advised Gargi to apply for free legal aid as no one else would take her case. But Gargi wasn’t convinced. She knew that nobody would take any interest in her case, especially when the whole country had already made its decision that Brahmanandam was a rapist. One day, Indrans arrives unannounced at Gargi’s house, late in the night. Indrans worked part-time in a pharmacy because he wasn’t getting cases, and eventually had to do something else to manage his expenses. Indrans came to Chennai a long time back. Since then, he had been struggling, but never got the opportunity to make his own mark. He knew that if he took Gargi’s case, then the association would bar him forever. But then, staying in the association, too, hadn’t done anything good for him. This so-called association wasn’t there for him when he had to work all night in a pharmacy just so that he could sustain himself. So he asked Gargi if she would be willing to give her father’s case to him. Gargi agreed, and the duo started their preparation for the upcoming legal battle.
‘Gargi’ Ending Explained: Was Brahmanandam Wrongly Accused By The Police?
There were two different narratives put forth in court by both parties. The prosecution had a strong case. Sub Inspector Bennix, who investigated the case, was called to the witness box. Bennix gave his testimony and said that a house help named Mukesh Thakur used to work in apartment F5, just above the victim’s house. He used to take the dog, owned by his boss, out for a walk around 5:30 in the evening. The victim often used to come and play with the dog. It had become an everyday routine. Mukesh told his friends about this 9-year-old girl, and that’s when they hatched the plan to commit the offense. The next day, Mukesh came with his three other friends, sedated the victim, and then raped her. The police caught the perpetrators eventually and conducted a swab test and took their DNA samples, which proved beyond doubt that they had committed the offense.
A first identification parade was conducted where the victim recognized all the four accused who had committed the offense. But then she went to her father and said something to him. That’s when the police came to know that there was a fifth accused, apparently. At around 6:30 in the evening, Brahmanandam had taken the victim back to her home, approximately half an hour after Mukesh and his friends had left. Police got suspicious as that half hour was unaccounted for. Nobody knew what happened in that time period. So police organized a second identification parade where the victim recognized Brahmanandam and told that he too committed the offense once the others left. Indrans was a bit jittery in the beginning as it was his first case. He read the file properly once again and saw that the victim was given medicine just before the identification parade that belonged to a class of medications called Barbiturates. Indrans pointed out that the victim was given an adult dosage, which made her confused and incapable of understanding the situation at hand completely. An expert was called in who corroborated what Indrans had said. The judge didn’t adjourn the case but ordered a re-investigation. Indrans had seven days to gather some evidence that proved that Brahmanandam was, in fact, not guilty. The judge also ordered another identification parade in the presence of the Tahsildar and herself. The Judge gave a befitting reply to the prosecution, who had made a derogatory remark about her sexuality and called her abnormal. She was the first transgender judge, and no way was she going to let her authority be undermined.
When Indrans and Gargi finally met Brahmanandam in prison, they asked him for his version of the story. Brahmanandam told them that he only found the victim lying on the staircase and did what any prudent man would. He took her to her house and told her parents about what he had seen. Brahmanandam’s shift usually ended at six in the evening, but that day, Sandra’s father hadn’t come to work, and he was covering for his friend. Sandra was getting married, and the boy’s family was coming to see her that day. That is why Brahmanandam was also doing the night shift. Seeing her father, Gargi couldn’t stop her tears. He was in deplorable condition. They believed him and then went to the victim’s house, in the hope that they might get to know something that the police had missed.
The victim’s father said that her daughter was unable to remember even her daily routine after the incident, and she couldn’t identify the perpetrators during the parade. Indrans recorded this on his phone and showed it to the judge in the court the next day. He said that the victim’s father had helped her in identifying his client, which invalidated the entire process. The judge kept another identification parade the next day in court and ordered the victim’s father to not be present there. The little girl was scared beyond her wits. She was traumatized and couldn’t identify Brahmanandam. Her father came and took her, asking the police and the legal authorities to leave them alone. The court granted Brahmanandam conditional bail, but also said that it would overturn the decision if he was identified in the next parade.
It felt like everything had come back to normal. Sandra’s father came to meet his friend. Brahmanandam spent some time with him and also went to have a couple of drinks. When they came back, Brahmaandam passed out, and Sandra’s father, while talking to Gargi, said something which he shouldn’t have. He told her, by mistake, that on the day of that fateful incident, he had gone to Shanti Apartments. He was inebriated as his daughter had told him in front of her would-be in-laws that she was in love with someone else. He was fuming with anger, when suddenly he saw the victim lying on the staircase. Brahmanandam told him to rest in the lift room and not disclose what he had seen that day. For a moment, Gargi lost consciousness. She was hoping that it didn’t mean what she thought it meant. The next day, in the Pallavaram Police station, she refused to sign the bail order copy. She asked her father where he was that day in the evening and what he did exactly. A parade was organized, and the victim once again identified Brahmanandam and testified that he was also involved in the act. Contrary to the perception that Gargi had from the beginning, Brahmanandam was charged with committing the rape of a minor, and this time there was solid evidence to prove his guilt.
The Significance Of The Mid-Credit Scene Explained
Ahalya, a journalist who had played a crucial role in revealing the identity of Brahmanandam, understood that what she had done was not right. To get the “exclusive news,” a lot of times, media houses crossed boundaries. Right to Privacy, due process of law, and all the other relevant phrases didn’t mean anything as long as they were able to maintain their TRP. In the mid credit scene we see that the Ritushuddhi ceremony was being celebrated at Gargi’s house as Aksarah had gotten her first menstruation. Ahalya, after the incident, had become close to Gargi and her family. She called to wish Aksarah. She told her that being a woman in our society was not an easy task. It is a lifelong fight, and no matter how reluctant you are, you inevitably have to be a part of it. She tells the little girl that it is never about winning or losing. It was about whether you were able to stand up after getting defeated. It was about whether you could muster the courage to face the unequal world after it had plotted to embarrass you, insult you, for the acts you didn’t commit.
As said in the film, every time someone does the right thing, the world becomes a better place to live in. Gargi’s one decision had the potential to change the world. Often, walking on the right path is the most difficult thing to do. How could she believe the fact that the same man who had once saved her from being molested by her tuition teacher, and told her to always fight back in such situations, could commit such a horrifying act? The image of her teacher making advancements towards her and giving her a chilling smile still haunted her. Seeing her father gave her a sense of security, and such was the dichotomy that the same face gave nightmares to another girl. Gargi was firm in her decision because she had gone through the same thing in her childhood. She knew what it felt like. She knew how that feeling never left your side, no matter how old you got. And maybe that’s why Gargi went against her own father so that justice could be served; she knew that it was the right thing to do.
Aksarah smiled in a naïve way, maybe not completely understanding what Ahalya had just told her. We see the victim’s face for the very first time. She had also come to attend the ceremony and to be with Aksarah on her special day. Gargi was able to give a second life to the girl. The girl was smiling. There was a renewed hope in her eyes. She had a traumatic experience, but she told the world that she would not be bogged down by it, that she was ready to face her demons head-on and live life on her own terms.