The premise of Court is an extremely simple one: it’s a dramatised exploration of India’s legal system, following the progress of a single case and all of the individuals involved. That simplicity makes the film highly accessible in the first instance, placing the focus on the characters and pervasive social commentary rather than technicalities and convolutions of plot. However, it becomes clear at around two-thirds of the way in film that there simply isn’t enough substance to the story to make it worth its two-hour running time. Although the trial of elderly folk singer Narayan Kamble is an interesting one, it’s just not compelling enough to stave off the tedium of procedure, meaning the audience is likely to lose interest much before the final judgement.
With that in mind, Court largely rests on the shoulders of its two leading actors – Vira Sathidar as the accused, and Vivek Gomber as his lawyer – and both do a fairly competent job, although a low-definition screening prevents the viewer from appreciating any of the real acting work going on. This cinematographer seems notably shy of the close-up, meaning there’s no real opportunity to witness these actors flexing their dramatic muscles. That said, the same tendency towards wider shots is highly rewarding in the film’s presentation of its setting, Mumbai. There’s an intriguing level of detail in every shot, which can be a little distracting but ultimately serves to convey a real sense of charm and character in the backdrop.
Court isn’t a perfect production, but it has a clear goal, which it manages to achieve. Sadly, much is lost due to the lack of pace or substance, and audiences are likely to lose interest before the final act. However, despite its structural issues, the film is still beautifully presented, competently acted and more than capable of conveying its ideas about India’s legal system.
Court is released in selected cinemas on 25th March 2016.
Watch the trailer for Court here: