Monday, February 08, 2016

Court (2014), Interludes

Prologue here.

Interlude One: Narayan Kamble traveling from his home to the public venue

Notice the following:
  1. There are as many girls (or even more) than boys in the tuition room.  His main "teaching assistant" is a girl.  Even in a poor colony, families are ensuring that all children, girls as well as boys, receive education.
  2. The topics of the tuition are merely informational (the biggest river, the tallest mountain peak).  It is a little tragic that kids are being fed meaningless information and illustrates that though society is changing, it will take a long time for the quality of education to improve.  We still insist on rote learning and meaningless testing.
  3. As he exits the colony, notice the clearly encroaching temple on the footpath.  He is choosing to ignore it.  In a society where injustices and corruption are pervasive, one has to choose one's battles or be exhausted.
  4. Notice the rag-picker old lady passing by the temple, and an instant later, a modern, educated woman going to work in the opposite direction.  And then, a woman coming out of the temple.  It shows three faces of society: oppressed, ambitious, fatalistic.
  5. As he walks to the venue, everything seems humdrum, but suddenly the entry gate says something about a protest about a massacre.  In the middle of the mundane, a grave reminder of injustice and brutality.
  6. The students accompanying him on the stage are part of a volunteer group.  And that group includes girls.
Interlude Two: The Police Station hallway
Notice the almost inconsequential chatting of two policewomen in the background.  But their chatter is not inaudible.  What is being said and what is its meaning, in the wider context?
One of the woman constables says that her son was reprimanded (by a teacher? by an employer?) for being insolent.  She exclaims in defense: "What do they mean, insolence?"
It shows the changing face of a society where hierarchies and power-structures are being questioned.  India's institutions are heavily dependent on authority and subservience.  But people are questioning them now.  Blind obedience is going out of fashion.
Interlude Three: The lawyer at the "Dissecting Democracy" event, and later, grocery shopping
The event is straightforward enough.  But what is interesting is the fact that the speech is in English in a highly-educated form (the audience also has some foreigners), but then suddenly a fan is brought in by two locals.  Who probably have no idea what is being talked about and whether it even concerns them.
Are we indeed "dissecting democracy", the title of the talk?
This chasm is then again explored when the lawyer goes grocery shopping.  There is western instrumental music playing in the background, and he picks up sparkling water and wine, which show a western consumerist influence in his food habits.  How does he make that kind of money?  Is he paid by foreign-funded NGOs?  We are expected to speculate.
As he is driving back, jazz music plays in his car.  And back at his place, he falls asleep, drunk, in front of an Apple laptop.
We are being asked to evaluate this man, who is defending an oppressed man, but who lives a lifestyle very different from the people he is defending.
Interlude Four: The lawyer and his family at the lunch table

The father makes an interesting remark: "To him it's all a joke." Then he elaborates in Marathi for which subtitles are missing.  What is the document about?  What is going on?
Then a guest joins.  A telling remark by the father: "I hope the watchman did not create any trouble."  Given the socioeconomic status of the guest, it was probably to be expected.  And then the father brags: "Don't worry.  The whole building is ours."
Then the father asks some questions of the guest (whether he is a local) and when the guest names his hometown, the father nonchalantly says: "I don't know where that is."
They live a cocooned life.  An upscale apartment, a watchman, but unaware of how and where other people live.
The father asks: "Are you a friend or a client?"  When answered (by the lawyer) that he is a friend, the father needs to know more.  "What do you do?"  When the person responds that he is "Doing M Com", the father says: "Good, very good." and loses interest.
The mother awkwardly asks the guest whether her son has a girlfriend.  The lawyer becomes very annoyed and they both leave.
The parents are absolutely disinterested in what kind of activist/volunteer work their son and his guest are involved in.  They have their own agendas and concerns.
The son, though engaged in "good work" outside the home, doesn't have one kind word to say to his parents, while quite clearly a beneficiary of their social status and the resultant upbringing that it afforded him.
(to be continued)

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