A courtroom drama worth watching over and over again – “A Few Good Men” (photo source: www.amctheatres.com)
If you want to see a good courtroom drama, the last place you will be looking for it is in a Tamil movie.
Forget about expecting a realistic & legalistic scene, the outcome is usually is predictable and the hero (don’t mind if he has killed 30 people in cold blood) often gets scot-free in the end. Hearsays are often admitted as crucial evidence (witnesses often played by the Gurkha, gardener or the maid). Often courtroom scene is added in to bridge the loose & weak subplots in the movie.
Predictably, there has not been a full-blown courtroom drama (otherwise I would have a field day writing a review about it). So when I was taking a break from playing computer games and watched a re-run of the Tamil movie “Citizen” last week, my expectation was not that high when the courtroom drama came on (for the synopsis, read here)
But coming from a legal background, I had at least expected that the director or the scriptwriter to do some homework to add some realism to such scenes. After all, not all who are watching the movie are old aunties who may not think much about the logic of certain scenes. Most of us are not as “dungu” as some directors wish us to be.
Just take a look at the Western movies – my favourite being the movie “A Few Good Men”. You actually would end up thinking that Tom Cruise was a real lawyer before he decided to be an actor. The choice of words used, the expression and legality of certain actions do not distinguish a real courtroom drama and movie courtroom drama.
That’s what I could call as realism. Another series to watch on courtroom dramas is “Law & Order” (I used to watch every episode when I was in college doing my Law – it was almost like going through a law class)
So, when I saw 2 judges sitting to hear the case in the movie “Citizen”, I knew that the court drama in the movie was another messed up job. The number of judges sitting to hear a case will always be an odd number…1, 3 or sometimes 5 or 7. There will never be 2 judges sitting for a case. What happens if one judge finds the accused guilty as charged whilst another don’t?
You cannot have a court decision that is 50-50 in nature. Conveniently for the movie, the other judge keeps quiet and concurs with the first judge. One problem solved but I still don’t get what the other judge was doing? To fill in space?
Ajith’s character – the accused & also the hero of the movie tells a long, full of cock story of why he did the kidnappings & murders (he killed some policemen in the process to catch the crooks). It was full of emotion, with Ajith crying like a small baby and guess what, the entire court sits down quietly sitting to it.
The prosecutor at any given time never bothers to raise any objections. You don’t hear the words “objection”, “objection overruled” or “objection sustained” in courtroom dramas in Tamil movies. It is rarely spoken as if it was a taboo.
Coming back to Ajith’s story – it is not backed up by evidence (the crooks had done a good job of destroying any existing shreds of evidence earlier in the movie). There was Ajith’s act of crying like a baby and a flashback (it has to be one in almost every Tamil movie).
Ya, there was some kind of admission from the “real” criminals but that tend to show how stupid they are admitting their wrongdoing even before the court had decided on Ajith’s case.
Even if we tend to believe the story for a second, it only tends to show why he did the criminal acts (it shows the motive or the state of the mind). It does not, however, negate the criminal acts itself.
Not to my surprise, however, the court sets Ajith free of all charges. He walks out from the court the same day much to a happy ending for the movie (somehow the police forgive him too since he was not re-arrested for the murder charges. Gosh!).
As I said, I normally don’t expect much from courtroom drama in a Tamil movie. But to show it in the most illogical manner is a bit too much to comprehend.
Well, when you think about how some famous Indian people get away with all manners of crime, perhaps the court system as portrayed in Tamil cinema is not so far-fetched after all…
But, yeah, it does make a serious movie turn laughable whenever they do this legal scenes.
Ha..ha, Sashi, how true especially of certain Chief Minister who has been in and out of jail but is firmly in power but then again, that politics. Not sure about hardcore criminal though especially in form of “Citizen” 😀
I agree. But out of the court room scene in Tamil movies I have seen, I liked the one in ‘Vithi’. I don’t have a law back ground to criticize, but I thought it was much better, if not perfect.