INDIA – 2014 – 116 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN GUJARATI WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES
A FILM BY CHAITANYA TAMHANE
A sewage worker’s dead body is found inside a manhole in Mumbai. An ageing folk singer is arrested and accused of performing an inflammatory song, which may have incited the worker to commit suicide. The trial unfolds in a lower court, where the hopes and dreams of the city’s ordinary people play out. Forging these fates are the lawyers and judge, who are observed in their personal lives beyond the theatre of the courtroom.
I was surprised by my urge to explore the Indian judiciary. After all, so much has been done and said in the genre of courtroom dramas. But when I attended a nondescript lower court in suburban Mumbai, the sheer lack of drama, and the casualness with which life and death decisions were being made, was what sparked my imagination. Every face has a story of its own; the stenographer who disinterestedly types away all day, the peon who runs errands for a small bribe, the inarticulate lawyers reading out long, technical passages from outdated law books, the appellants who have probably spent years waiting for their case number to be called out. Amidst all this theatre, are the hopes and fears of ordinary people, who cling on to every word they can understand, as their fates are decided.
Although the film is set in very peculiar sub-cultures of Mumbai, the attempt is to explore the invisible fabric of a collective. The characters are constantly acting upon the invisible triggers of caste and class politics, patriarchy, and feudalism. The challenge for me was to lend dignity and humanity to these people, despite their flaws.
Chaitanya Tamhane talks to Liz Shackleton about making his debut feature Court, which won two prizes at this year’s Venice Film Festival
- SCREEN DAILY (Interview with director Chaitanya Tamhane)
"The verdict’s in, and COURT is great"
- NOW Magazine
"Exposing the moral flaws in India’s westernized legal system, Court is a ponderous yet enthralling drama."
- Whylie Writes
“Quietly effective, award-winning drama.”
- Toronto Star
“COURT is a powerfully level-headed slamming of India’s legal system.”
- The Globe and Mail
“A probing interpretation of how inept the court system seems to be in India.”
- Scene Creek