Watch Aniruddha Guha's critique and rating of Court and Margarita With A Straw on this week's Dedh Minute Review.
Court is a Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati and English multilingual film, directed by first-time filmmaker Chaitanya Tamhane. We know it because the film that has been winning accolades around the world, and now we get to see it. And it’s every bit worth the hype.
I saw Court a couple of months ago, and the film’s skilful portrayal of Indian society has stayed with me ever since. The film is about a social activist being tried in court for the suicide of a drain worker who, it is believed, killed himself after being influenced by the social activist’s song.
It may seem like an absurd premise, but soon you realise that even the absurdity is rooted in stark reality. The critique of the law system is merely a means to make a statement on several ills plaguing our country – from the class divide, to the threat to freedom of expression. These are complex issues, and Tamhane weaves them expertly into a compelling narrative, which rides on the shoulders of superbly etched-out characters and fine acting.
The upper middle-class defence lawyer, the overburdened public prosecutor, and the stickler-for-rules judge represent the many Indias that survive alongside each other. Tamhane ventures out of the courtroom to depict these characters’ lives, which are intimately tied to their professions. All the actors: Vivek Gomber, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Pradeep Joshi and Vira Sathidar are great in their respective roles.
Court is a major cinematic milestone and one of the best films by an Indian filmmaker in recent years. Do not miss the film. Rating: 4.5/5.
Margarita With A Straw left me with mixed emotions. Shonali Bose’s film comes from an honest place, yes, and dares to tell a different story. Yet, there were several things I found inconsistent.
The film is about Laila, played by Kalki Koechlin, who is suffering from Cerebral Palsy, and depicts her sexual awakening and relationships. The interesting premise is undone by some corny dialogues and stuttering screenplay.
Kalki gives Laila her all, but while you learn to not sympathise with the character’s disability, you also don’t root for her beyond a point. Instead, you’re more affected by the characters around her, especially her blind girlfriend Khanum, played by Sayani Gupta, and mother, played by Revathy.
Revathy, in fact, is the best thing about the film, and the film’s most memorable moments are those shared by mother and daughter.
I could appreciate the filmmaker’s attempt to depict a story truthfully, but in the end, Margarita With a Straw didn’t quite connect with me. Rating: 2/5.