My first thought after watching Court was to dwell on the inhumanity of justice. The second thought was how inadequate the word ‘inhuman’ was to describe the criminal justice system in India. Inhumanity implies a negation of humanness. Sometimes that negation might be conscious. At times, as psychology has so strongly proven, inhumanity is unconscious. But either way, those actions are animated by a human intelligence. And, sometimes wrongly, a moral salve can be found in burdening that intelligence with the consequences of those actions.
That isn’t the case with ‘systems’. There isn’t an agency to pin down, the cogs keep moving the same even if you replace the actors. Hence, the word ‘unhuman’ came to mind. It isn’t individual malice that is driving the injustice, but something worse, institutional indifference. It becomes that much more frustrating when there isn’t a bedrock of moral guilt to lay the foundation of redemption on. It is just turtles all the way down.
But perhaps the genius of the film lies not in articulating systemic apathy, but in revealing the egos, faiths and intentions that interact with that system. Wildly different characters, each more thoughtfully fleshed out than the one before, expose issues of caste, gender, discrimination, and violence with such muted finality that any post-film ‘kaisi lagi’ discussions ring hollow. I was silent for long after I watched the film, and I’m unsure and insecure even as I write this.
I can’t think of many films as well written and shot. The unflinching, uncomfortably long shots; the refusal to use any music; the unornamental dialogue; it all comes together in a way that carves out a space in your mind, and then silently leaves without a word. This is a film that I’d like people to watch a 100 years from now.