Star Cast: Vivek Gomber, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Vira Sathidar, Pradeep Joshi, Usha Bane, Shirish Pawar
Director: Chaitanya Tamhane
What’s Good: Chaitanya Tamhane’s film is on the face and does not beat around the bush. It would not be fair to term it as documentary drama since this is the most powerful form of cinema.
What’s Bad: Apart from an unexpected ending, there is nothing that went wrong with the film.
Loo break: Unlawful to do so!
Watch or Not?: It is a must watch. None of the court room dramas in Bollywood have touched this form of honesty and reality. The Indian Judiciary system and its ambiguous laws get a new meaning in this film.
Narayan Kamble, a folk singer, is arrested with the charges of abetment of suicide of a sewage worker. How is he booked on the charges of inciting a suicide?
According to the police, Narayan’s performance in Sitladevi chawl consisted of a song which asked all manhole workers to jump into the manholes and die suffocating. As funny as it sounds, the case is exactly opposite of it and two lawyers; Nutan (prosecutor) and Vinay Vora (defense) fight it out to convict or vindicate Kamble. In the midst of the case which keeps getting stretched, Tamhane takes us into the personal lives of these lawyers and how their lives outside court contradict and vary their personalities.
The story promotes a humanitarian attitude above all and so at no point does the director make you choose sides.
Court Review: Script Analysis
Having studied a few sections of the Indian Penal Code, I remember being harrowed by its highly ambiguous and outdated nature. Since changing times call for relevant laws, we are still stuck maintaining order through laws that need to be amended. In case of Court, Tamhane paints a picture of a common man who is helplessly struck by a system which opposes to look beyond what is presented as truth.
Other than the case proceedings which are presented brilliantly, you actually get a slice of life when you are shown the personal lives of the lawyers. While the prosecutor seems like a sharp lady in court, her gossips in train are enough to show you that eventually she is just doing her job and is not the villain because she is trying to prove a man guilty who may be innocent. Even though in court she may be opposed to seditious literature, in her personal life she does not mind watching a play that calls for the ‘Marathi Manoos’ cause and is highly casteist.
On the other hand, Vinay Vora the defense lawyer is a upmarket Gujarati in spite of his high stature does not hesitate to help those under-provided. He knows the crude nature of law and is trying to bend it for to save Narayan Kamble. What is even more interesting is that Tamhane’a script is so real that it even catches the conversations between random people who are a part of the scene. The silences in this film speak much more than dialogues.
Court Review: Star Performances
Vira Sathidar plays the character of Narayan Kamble. Shown to be a balladeer, Vira’s ferocious stance when is on stage as opposed to his meek manner in the court proceedings is amazing. Vira performs the role with utmost honesty and it seems so real that you would not want to call it an act. His portrayal of a common man getting stuck with the court and its twisted ways is commendable.
Geetanjali Kulkarni as Nutan, the prosecutor is extraordinary. She is strong and straight forward woman who is just doing her duty. Pawar represents the typical mentality of Indians who will study the text book by its words without applying much brains to it.
Vivek Gomber as defense lawyer Vinay Vora is excellent in his role. He is an informed lawyer who does not fear in calling laws archaic and harmful when not amended according to the time and situation. Vivek does a convincing job as Vinay.
Pradeep Joshi is the judge assigned for the hearing of the case and his character is extremely interesting. At no point are you forced to judge his character but the way that he handles this case is interesting. We get a glimpse of his personal space too and it is great to see how someone who grants people justice on the basis of logic and proofs is actually endorsing someone advise about numerology and gem stones to better their lives.
Court Review: Direction, Editing and Screenplay
Chaitanya Tamhane makes the most outstanding directorial debut with this film. It is quite clear why the film had received a National award. Rarely it is possible for directors and writers to build a court room drama that revels on both a rational and a humane perspective and Court is that. Also the winning point for this film is that Tamhane’s direction is accompanied by Mrinal Desai’s camera which hits every nook and corner with a meaning and captures the eerie silences of lawful and unlawful activities.
The cinematography of the film gets full marks for bringing out the flavor of realism. Narayan Kamble’s performances come out as lively portions in the film and the certain scenes make you wonder if truly India is a country where the judiciary is at the apex of the system. As stated earlier it would be unfair to call it a documentary and in fact I would say if at all realistic cinema breath in India it is thanks to such films and it is high time we give them the limelight.
Court Review: The Last Word
Court is the right blend between the rational and humane nature of our laws as well as people. The film will give you an insight into the archaic and ambiguous nature of laws and how they are thrusted upon individuals who are unaware of them. It is the best representation of a court room drama so far in India, minus its heightened dramatic nature. I am going with 4/5 for this film.
Court releases on 17th April, 2015.
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