Rating: * * * *
By: Keyur Seta
Courts have had a long relationship with Indian films. But mostly the court proceedings shown in our movie are no way near to reality. It is only since recent times that films like No One Killed Jessica (2011), Jolly LLB (2013) and Shahid (2013) have depicted court scenes as close to reality as possible.
But director Chaitanya Tamhane’s Marathi movie Court depicts the judicial process with never-seen-before reality. However, at the same time, the film stays far away from being a documentary or docu-drama. It focuses more on the dark humorous side while raising several serious questions about our judiciary and law and order procedure.
The film revolves around Narayan Kamble (Vira Sathidar), a senior citizen from Mumbai working as a tution teacher. As a passion, he also writes and performs folk songs that depict the sorry tale of laborers and menial workers. Once, while performing, he is arrested for allegedly writing and performing a song that instigated a menial worker to commit suicide. Lawyer Vinay Vora (Vivek Gomber) fights Kamble’s case. Is Kamble Guilty?
Court is not a film in conventional sense. It is an honest presentation of a court case in an actual form. The arguments inside the courtroom, the casual conversations and the everyday, routine scenes appear right out of reality. There is also no background music whatsoever while the camerawork goes with the realistic genre.
However, this doesn’t make for a tedious watch as there is continuous dark humor. In fact, the film proves that you don’t need any melodrama to make court proceedings interesting. As I have witnessed court proceedings, I too agree that the real courtroom scenes have plenty of potential for entertainment, especially if it is Sessions Court, which is the case in the film.
But amidst the humor, the film completely succeeds in its motto of presenting the sorry and, at times, disturbing realities of our judiciary system. It also hints at the removal of Victorian laws that are completely irrelevant in today’s era.
Court has a questionable aspect though. There is too much footage given to the personal lives of both lawyers and the judge. Although these parts are also entertaining and meaningful in a way, few moments appear unnecessary, especially the way the film is dragged in the last few minutes. Thankfully, this point doesn’t lower your satisfaction much.
The performances fully complement the subject. It is difficult to believe that Narayam Kamble is not a real person and is just a fictional character. This is simply because of Vira Sathidar’s excellently realistic performance. Vivek Gomber isn’t behind though. He too perfectly gets into the skin of a Gujarati defense lawyer. Pradeep Joshi, as the judge, and Geetanjali Kulkarni, as the Public Prosecutor, render brilliant acts too. Shirish Pawar shines in a supporting role.
Overall: Court is a daringly realistic saga that is also high on entertainment. The film has received the National Award for Best Feature Film and a number of other international awards and rightly so. It deserves positive word-of-mouth to make a good impact at the box office.
Director: Chaitanya Tamhane
Producer: Vivek Gomber
Writer: Chaitanya Tamhane
Actors: Vira Sathidar, Vivek Gomber, Pradeep Joshi, Geetanjali Kulkarni