A little known (in India) but widely revered movie has been winning several awards across the globe. Having read about the acclaim (more than 10 International film awards) that has been showered on this simple low budget film, I couldn't stop myself from watching it on the first day of its release. I was soon to find out the reasons that formed the origin of this widespread fanfare for a film that didn't have a single known face and was a debut vehicle for the director. The movie is COURT and here are five reasons which make this movie a must watch. 1. The cinematic style Director Chaitanya Tamhane, in full knowledge of this being a feature film, has chosen a rather offbeat style of cinematography. His vision seems to be making the viewer a part of the canvas. His scenes do not have hurried movements or snappy cuts or closeups or jarring background music. Instead, he chooses to plant you in the scene. Each and every lingering shot starts before the character arrives, as you slowly grasp the events and the essence of the space which starts to encapsulate you, be it the courtroom, the slum visited by the defence lawyer, the pub that he and his friends go to or the house of the government lawyer. Even after the character has left the screen, he still lets the proceedings seep into you – a method by which he gives the viewer time to think and, as a result, succeeds in allowing every member of the audience to develop his/her own perspective. 2. The deafening silences One of the most potent and powerful instruments used in this movie is that of silence. If there was to be a personification on canvas for this expression, it has to be this movie. And yet, Chaitanya chose to never dramatize or infuse emotion into the scenes when silence tightens its grip on the audience. There are moments in the movie that almost make the audience feel uncomfortable because of the immensely natural, awkward silences displayed on screen. These are skillfully broken by the unforced dialogues that unfold on the screen. His characters pause, lose their temper, get confused, are amused through the proceedings, just like we do in our everyday life, and the silences that connect these moments are the vehicles which drive the images that we develop for each of the characters in the story. 3. Fleshing out the characters The director chooses to stay away from any kind of narration other than that which the characters let you in on, through their interactions with one another. This means that each of the characters appears and shapes up in front of your eyes just like a pot takes form with each action of the potters hand. Chaitanya chooses to give a warm shade to every character that comes on screen. It's the story that is cruel, funny, unforgiving. The characters, at first glance, are everyday normal human beings that we ourselves are and find around us on a daily basis. It is slowly but surely, as the story progresses, that the director turns the mirror towards us as he shows our own approach towards our life and responsibilities. Everyone is multi-layered, just like us. So while the defence lawyer may be devoted towards his profession and client, his tone may be entirely different at home and though the government lawyer may be the quintessential wife, she may also be treating her case as just another Koshimbir she cooks up with great ease. 4. The locations The locations chosen in the movie are as real as they can get. Not a single frame has an air of made up surroundings in it. So when the courtroom or kitchen or the dining table or the chawl or the stage is presented before you, it results in you instantly becoming a part of it because of the real sounds that surround you. I have to mention a scene where the defence lawyer visits the slum where a character resides. The claustrophobic feel that this scene gives you is completed by the interaction that he has with a lady residing there, and the beauty of it is you can even hear the sound of the bangles this woman wears, which every Indian relates to. 5. And finally the glorious, cruel and effortless satire Satire is a weapon that is used by the witty against the unsuspecting simpleton. But, in Court, everyone, every moment, every dialogue aspires to be it. It's a movie that is made in complete realization of the fact that everyday life is nothing but a set of contradictions. And the courtroom is a melting pot of this mesh of feelings, laws, rights, wrongs, apprehensions, ideas and conveniences. And it is at the final moment, the closing scene, that the power of this expression is presented in its truest purest form, with a symbolism so subtle that it captures the gist of the entire proceeding in a matter of a few seconds. It's an important film! Do watch it.
When an aging activist is arrested, the lives of the accused, the lawyers, and the judge intertwine to reveal bigotry that underscores the judicial system.
June 29, 2020