A film by Chaitanya Tamhane
2014 / Maharashtra/ Marathi / 116 minutes
3 Supplements (5 minutes each) on ‘COURT’ will be screened
One in the beginning and rest after the film
A study in class, bureaucracy, and censorial stupidity, young film maker Chaitanya Tamhane's debut feature, Court, plants viewers in the plastic chairs of an Indian court of law as 69-year-old protest singer Narayan Kamble (Vira Sathidar) is tried for a crime he didn't commit.
A well- to-do activist lawyer (Vivek Gomber, who has also produced the film) represents Kamble in court while the public prosecutor (Geetanjali Kulkarni) fights tooth and nail to ensure he stays in jail. At one point she even cites archaic laws to claim that the elderly singer is a threat to the sovereignty of India. The defense lawyer knows very well that these laws are antiquated and irrelevant, but apart from being patient and carrying on the fight, there is precious little he can do.
Beyond criticism of India’s judiciary, the director implicitly implicates the country’s education system, which creates professionals skilled in rote learning yet completely lacking in independent thinking. Where the trial scenes use the legal system’s ponderous rules to hang itself, sequences showing the lawyers outside working hours reveal, via exceptionally nuanced observations, the sorts of influences and lives led by the two sides.
“Court” ends up being a great courtroom drama: it treats the audience as both witness and jury and lays out a sprawling argument for them to ponder over. It’s hard to shake this one off long after the credits have rolled.
Born in Mumbai in 1987, Chaitanya Tamhane is an English literature graduate from Mithibai College of Arts. He has written and directed a feature-length documentary titled FOUR STEP PLAN (2006), chronicling the trends of plagiarism in Indian cinema. His first full-length play as a writer-director, Grey Elephants in Denmark opened to critical acclaim in Mumbai and had several successful shows at prestigious venues. SIX STRANDS (2010), his first fictional short film was screened at various international film festivals including Rotterdam International Film Festival, Clermont Ferrand International Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Slamdance, and many others.
Chaitanya’s debut feature film, COURT (2014), premiered at the 71st Venice Film Festival, where it won the Lion of the Future award for best debut and the Orizzonti award for Best film. Since then, the film has gone on to win 16 international awards at various prestigious film festivals. He was recently featured in Forbes India‘s list of 30 young Indian achievers under the age of 30.
COURT / Feature / 2014
SIX STRANDS / Short / 2010
FOUR STEP PLAN / Documentary / 2006