An humble and honest cinematic multilingual gem “Court” — a courtroom drama that brings alive injustices of India’s legal system — has been chosen to represent the country at the 88th Academy Awards. Director Chaitanya Tamhane is elated at the “surprise”, while a jury member resigned from the panel over differences with the chairman.
“Court”, Tamhane’s directorial debut, made the cut as India’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 88th Oscars after careful selection by a Film Federation of India-appointed 17-member jury, led by veteran actor-filmmaker Amol Palekar.
The film, which premiered at the 71st Venice International Film Festival last year, had first left the director surprised when it won the National Film Award in the Best Feature Film category for 2014 even before its theatrical release in India.
Now, getting a chance to be an Oscar nominee is a double whammy.
“At every juncture of the film’s journey, we have felt that it has given us more than we can ever imagine. Once again, this has come as a genuine surprise to both Vivek (actor-producer Vivek Gomber) and me,” Tamhane said in a statement.
“Ever since we started making the film, we kept our expectations low. Specially in this case, since these results tend to be so unpredictable, it just felt like a nice thing to not expect too much. Now that it has actually happened, we would like to thank the jury for their decision, and to everyone who has supported the film so far,” he added.
Apart from Vivek, the true-to-life narrative of “Court” has been brought alive on the screen by powerful performances by actors like Vira Sathidar, Geetanjali Kulkarni, Pradeep Joshi, Usha Bane and Shirish Pawar.
The multilingual film, which has dialogues in Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati and English to capture the realism of daily humdrum, puts the spotlight on the Indian judicial system through the trial of an ageing folk singer in a lower court in Mumbai.
It was reportedly in the run for India’s Oscar nomination along with films like “Baahubali – The Beginning”, “PK”, “Haider”, “Masaan”, “NH10” and “Kaaka Muttai”.
Following the announcement that “Court” will be India’s Oscar contender, news emerged that Bollywood director Rahul Rawail, who was on the selection committee, had submitted his resignation.
Averring that while he was proud of “Court” being the chosen one, Rawail told IANS that he has withdrawn from his role over differences with the jury chairperson. He said that Amol’s “general conducting of proceeding was often manipulative”.
Meanwhile, the film fraternity members are hopeful that an impactful film like “Court” — which has won accolades galore at foreign film galas — can bring the coveted Oscar statuette to the Indian courtyard, and break India’s dry spell at the American awards extravaganza.
“Mother India”, “Salaam Bombay!” and “Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India” are the only Indian films that made it to the top five in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Academy Awards.