The selection of Court as India’s official entry to the Oscars has left director Chaitanya Tamhane on cloud nine. Beating strong contenders, including Neeraj Ghaywan’s Masaan, Avinash Arun’s Killa and Kabir Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan, the Marathi film has scaled new heights with the entry.
The movie gently and non-judgementally questions the loopholes in the Indian legal system. “It’s still hard for me to believe that my film has been so warmly received. I have been visiting sessions courts and had discovered that the way the legal system and the courtroom proceedings were shown in our films is completely contrary to reality,” says Chaitanya.
Observing individuals trapped in long-wound legal battles, which sometimes made no sense, Chaitanya decided to tell the story of the pitfalls of the legal system, but he had no money. It was his childhood friend Vivek Gombar who agreed to fund his dream.
“If it wasn’t for Vivek, Court wouldn’t have happened. We made the movie on our own without the support of any corporate house. We just wanted to make the film, little did we know that it would make such an impact,” says the young director, who, at 19, had made a short film on plagiarism in Indian cinema.
Court seems all set to make the same global impact as Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox, but Chaitanya isn’t too sure of that.
“I don’t know if my film would eventually have the same global impact as Ritesh Batra’s The Lunchbox. But I can certainly say that the global audiences have got the point. At all the 30 international film festivals the film has gone to, not once did we have to explain our cultural references to Western audiences.”
A still from Court
Court satirises the Indian legal system with a virility that has won the world. And now Chaitanya’s appetite is whetted; he wants to explore more.
“Court is the first part of my institutional trilogy. Next, I’d like to do similar projects on the medical and educational institutions.”
The idea, says Chaitanya, is not to mock the loopholes in the system.
“I didn’t set out to make a strong socio-political statement. I just wanted to tell the truth of how endless court proceedings that sometimes take a lifetime, affect the common man. When I set out to research on the subject, I didn’t know about the Indian legal system. The three-and-a-half years the film took to shape up has been a time of immense education for me.”