Archive of films Court / Court

2014, 116 min

Section: Horizons
Year: 2015

An ambitious effort from a 28-year-old Indian director that won two awards at the Venice IFF in 2014. With its finely spun drama and modern narrative, the film follows an absurd trial unfolding in contemporary Mumbai, while completely overturning the courtroom film canon in the process. In its theme of power and powerlessness Tamhane’s debut reaches far beyond the borders of India.


An ambitious debut that won two awards at the Venice IFF, this quasi-documentary drama set in Mumbai examines the Indian justice system via an absurd trial involving a folk singer accused of inciting suicide. His performance of a protest song apparently encouraged a worker to take his own life and the prosecutor intends to convict him of anti-state activities. The defence lawyer fights with a will but each subsequent hearing exposes judicial rigidity and incompetence and police corruption. Although set in a courtroom, this is far from being a typical genre piece requiring unexpected twists and histrionic lawyers. Without taking sides, Tamhane sketches a rigorous and unforgiving portrait of society through the microcosm of the courtroom and the private lives of those connected with the trial – the affluent defence lawyer, the predatory public prosecutor, and the judge nonchalantly passing down life-changing verdicts. With its finely spun drama and modern narrative, the film nevertheless reaches beyond the borders of India, its theme of power and powerlessness subtly capturing the very essence of human nature.

Jindřiška Bláhová

About the director

Chaitanya Tamhane (b. 1987, Bombay, India) studied English literature as well as film and is successful at European film festivals constantly on the lookout for new talent. In 2012 he was selected for the Berlinale Talent Campus. His directorial debut Court (2014) received support from the Hubert Bals Fund, an initiative of the Rotterdam IFF. A film which takes a look at the Indian judiciary, the drama was screened at Venice in 2014, where it won the Luigi De Laurentiis Award as Best Debut, and also Best Film in the Orizzonti section. “I was curious to explore the figures of authority involved in a trial: the judge, prosecutor and the defence lawyer, who are themselves slaves to rules, protocol, and hierarchy. I soon realised these people come from the same socio-cultural context as the rest of us. Except that they’re in a position of power. So the film also became a study of society, the collective,” says Tamhane of his debut.


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About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Horizons
Director: Chaitanya Tamhane
Screenplay: Chaitanya Tamhane
Dir. of Photography: Mrinal Desai
Music: Sambhaji Bhagat
Editor: Rikhav Desai
Art Director: Somnath Pal, Pooja Talreja
Producer: Vivek Gomber
Production: ZOO Entertainment
Cast: Vira Sathidar, Vivek Gomber, Geetanjali Kulkarni
Sales: Memento Films International

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