Sunday, September 27, 2015

Court - India's Entry to Oscar

The Oscar entry for India has been declared. 'Court', debut movie of a young director will start trending now on social and un-social media. Is the movie really worth it? Every TD&H would be asking that question. The answer would be primarily subjective.

Let's look at the intent behind the question from another angle. What is different or outstanding in the movie? Not the subject matter exactly. There have been enough films in the 'courtroom drama' category. For any film production manager in India, the location hunting for a courtroom is very structured. The location should have a place for the judge to sit some ten feet high, a wooden hammer for the judge, standard Government Issue photos (Mahatma Gandhi, Ambedkar, Nehru, Indira Gandhi etc) on the wall behind him, enough space between the accused box and witness box to play football and equivalent distance between the judge and the audience. The casting for the opposing lawyers is easy. There is a good lawyer and there is a bad lawyer. In India, we don’t understand the concept of right and wrong, we have good and bad. Bad lawyer will always ask embarrassing questions to women witnesses and twist the truth. Good lawyer will look constipated.

‘Court’ breaks away from this and gives a very natural, very real perspective of looking at any court and court case. Those who have had an occasion to visit a real courtroom (I have had quite a few occasions) can immediately relate to the ‘realness of the ambiance' as depicted in the movie. The story-line is simple enough. A lok-shahir, people’s poet, is arrested. The charges are usual like creating social disturbance; as well as an unusual one - abetting suicide. The film takes the viewer through journey of this court case. No, it doesn’t start at the start and end at the end. It presents sub stories by focusing on the characters individually. In a way, it is a sequential structure of sub-stories. These sub-stories are told in a perspective that beautifully balances between fiction and non-fiction.

The acting performance of all actors is simply superb. It is quite understated, but the understatement doesn’t become stereotypical and superficial like Dilip Kumar’s acting. Only the actor playing the role of the defense counsel is quite awkward. But that seems to be a ‘tactical adjustment’ (he is also producer of the film). The film would have substantially improved on its impact quotient, had the role been played by say Sandeep Kulkarni of Dombivli Fast. Other actors, especially an obscure actress named Usha Bane has given a performance that grows beyond the word ‘exemplary’.

In this film, music comes as an integral part of the story, not as a gaudy and out-of-place patch. The songs are easy on eyes, ears and brain. The location selection is amazing. After a long time, the locations play a part in the story as importantly as the characters on screen.

On the whole, the movie is definitely worth watching. But beware, it will claim some brain space and come home with you. You can’t escape thinking about it for a couple of days afterwards. Once again, is the movie really worth it? Well, find your own answer!

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