A study of everyday life for the common man entangled in India’s endless Judiciary cycle.

Adding to the brave voice of the new-wave Indian independent cinema is Chaitanya Tamhane’s Marathi-language debut film Court, a minimalist and observational drama that depicts the Indian (specifically, Maharashtiran) judicial system and its personnel at work via one absurd civil lawsuit.

Set in Mumbai, when a sewage worker’s dead body is found in the gutter, a folk singer is accused for performing a seditious song that enticed the worker to commit suicide. Arrested and present in a lower sessions court, the movie observes the proceedings of the case through the months it takes each step of the way while also looking at the lives of the people involved: the accused, the public prosecutor, the defense lawyer, and even the judge.

Without offering much of a commentary, very little in terms of dramatics or theatricality, and realism at its core, Court is a study of everyday life for the “common man” once entangled in India’s seemingly endless cycle of the Judiciary. Unlike dramatic fictional narratives from mainstream cinema, Court has no protagonist or antagonist. No agendas or sinister end-goals drive the plot. The simplicity of the people acts as an eye-opener while also injecting the movie with incidental humour. The camera almost never moves, staying mounted and stationary with the director applying long cuts to establish the observational nature of the movie. Considering the lingering pace of the movie, it requires patience – but the end result is an intelligent and thought-provoking experience.

Rating: ★★★★½

Tags: ,

About Shariq Madani

Shariq is a social, talkative, fun-loving guy who enjoys books, food and a long drive. But his real joy is in the comfortable darkness of a cinema, watching a good movie, and later spending hours discussing it.