Courting a dream

Courting a dream

Oscar calling

Courting a dream

The perfect ending to director Chaitanya Tamhane’s Cinderella-like story is his Oscar nomination for ‘Court’. From being a broke 24-year-old to directing a National Award-winning film, life has been projected to the Mumbai-based warrior through varied lenses. ‘Court’ was recently screened at the ninth edition of ‘Experimenta’, the International Festival of Moving Image Art in India, at Max Mueller Bhavan.

Chaitanya, one of the participating filmmakers, recalls that international acclaim was a far-reaching dream for him, let alone an Oscar nomination.

     “The plot of the movie is routed in a very specific Indian cultural context. The lack of distribution houses for art cinema also kept me thinking about what kind of an audience can ‘Court’ reach out to.” So awards such as ‘Best Film’ and ‘Golden Gateway of India’ have come to him as a satchel of surprises.

However, he is not reading too much into this success and is celebrating by taking pride in his team. And quite an excellent collaboration the teamwork panned out to be on screen.

The plot is a tale woven from personal narratives pieced together. It explores a typical courtroom drama where a Dalit activist is wrongly charged with abetment of suicide. It intertwines the personal lives of the accused, lawyers and judges and it goes on to show how the law is interpreted and not always absolute.

“My fascination towards the movie began when I saw the proceedings of a lower court in Mumbai. I located its follies such as the effect of translation and a dysfunctional setting. I researched by talking to lawyers and professionals and thereon, the script evolved organically.” About the genre of the film he adds, “I didn’t embark on working on a specific genre but later, it was difficult to ignore certain social and political realities. Towards the end, the movie turned out a perfect balance between being an art cinema and a social commentary.”  

Apart from power play, ‘Court’ also explores conflicting languages as a major
element.

 “It was a natural decision to work on a multi-lingual film because the movie is a microcosm of Mumbai. It didn’t make sense for Gujarati lawyers to speak English in court and then go back home and not converse in Gujarati. I looked at diverse languages in the film which became a major highlight in the movie.”

However, calling it a predominantly Marathi film with Hindi and Gujarati, with an English title, Chaitanya calls his brainchild an Indian film and looks at his Oscar nomination as a boost for alternative endeavours.

 “I took a big risk since I was working with untrained actors but decided to take that plunge as we were all first-timers and had nothing to lose. Now, my life is the same as I haven’t taken the success seriously. About my next project, I work slowly so it’s difficult to talk about it right now. Everything is at a nascent stage so talk to me after a year.”

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