This week, BUFS is pleased to present Court starring Vira Sathidar, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Vivek Gomber and directed by Chaitanya Tamhane
Court is a courtroom drama delivering many powerful social messages of racism, classism and corruption in India. The main protagonist of the film, Narayan Kamble (played by Vira Sathidar), is shown in the opening scene teaching geography to children at a local community school. He later boards a bus to a rally to commemorate a massacre and we see his character transform into a Marathi folk singer and activist who gives a voice to the people. His song lyrics are very controversial and explicit to many traditionalists in the area. However, they are inspiring and powerful to those who have been oppressed by the current political and judicial system in India. Near the end of Kamble’s poetic song the police arrive and arrest him. He is charged with inciting a sewage worker to commit suicide, due to a song he allegedly sang in the slums days earlier. We quickly learn that the accusations are politically motivated and serve to silence opposing forces of the government.
During Kamble’s trial our attention is turned to two critical characters in the courtroom, the public prosecutor, Nutan (played by Geetanjali Kulkarni), and the defense lawyer, Vinay Vora (played by Vivek Gomber). Director and writer, Chaitanya Tamhane, does an excellent job contrasting their lives. Vinay is a very affluent man and is shown eating at the finest restaurants, buying imported goods from posh grocery stores, and enjoying beautiful nightclubs. He also takes his clients case very seriously. His lifestyle is starkly contrasted by the public prosecutor he is up against. She is shown as riding the bus everywhere, picking her son up from day care and cooking for the family. She is ambitious and wants to climb the career latter. She is also far too comfortable working within the system and with whatever little evidence the police will give her.
This film explores how the courtroom brings together people from all class levels of society and subjects them to a corrupt system that proceeds remarkably slowly. The film focuses on the police, the lawyers, and the judges in this system and how their strengths and weaknesses can have enormous consequences for those being prosecuted.
As a winner of 17 awards internationally, Court, has been acclaimed as one of the finest expressions of Indian cinema and artistic imagery. At only 28 years of age, Chaitanya Tamhane, with little formal training, has managed to create a film that captures clear messages of sexism, classism, and corruption and combines it with brilliant cinematography.
Court screens Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at the Landmark Theatres, Pen Centre. Visit brocku.ca/bufs for details.