The Film “Court” and Movies on the Indian Judicial System

I had a chance to watch “Court” last night, the award winning debut of young director Chaitanya Tamhane. The trailer can be viewed here. A short synopsis of the film is also included:

“A sewerage worker’s dead body is found inside a manhole in Mumbai. An
ageing folk singer is tried in court on charges of abetment of suicide.
He is accused of performing an inflammatory song which might have
incited the worker to commit the act. As the trial unfolds, the personal
lives of the lawyers and the judge involved in the case are observed
outside the court.”

The story is told through a series of realistic snippets from the trial and the lives of the chief protagonists – the young defense lawyer, the middle class wife prosecutor, and the judge. The pacing of the film is slow, mirroring that of an actual trial. I thought the movie brought to light powerfully how colonial era laws, and a plodding, insensitive court system, can be used to quiet less prominent voices that are unpopular in mainstream, or middle class, India. Not to give away the plot, but there is also a much broader critique of contemporary middle class society and the tensions within it. I would encourage lawyers, particularly young lawyers and students to watch the film. It’s not Bollywood standard fare, but it’s worth the watch.

For a long time I’ve wanted to compile a list of films about the Indian judicial system (I must admit I’ve watched very few). If people have any such lists they would like to share in the comment section I would love to hear about them. If there is enough of a response I’ll then compile them in the body of the post or create a new post. These movies don’t have to be realistic depictions, but just films that center around the judicial system, or critiques of it, like the drama “No One Killed Jessica Lal” or the comedy “Jolly LLB“. 


Written by
Nick Robinson
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