Advocates Day: Lawyers on how real Hindi cinema’s court scenes are

While lawyers and courtroom proceedings in Hindi cinema have been very entertaining over the years, are we getting closer to reality when it comes to their portrayal? On Advocate's Day, celebrated on 3 December to mark the birth anniversary of Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India and an eminent lawyer,, finds out.

The Cinestaan Team

Over the years, the lawyers in courtroom scenes in Hindi cinema have gone through tremendous change. From the frenzied shout-match by defence lawyer Govind (Sunny Deol) in Damini (1993) to the mostly calm and collected Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachchan) of Pink (2016), the over-the-top and melodramatic advocates now have a more realistic approach. Gone are the passionate outbursts on the miscarriages of justice. They have been replaced by lawyers using logic and ingenuity to address the court and win their cases.

But what do practising lawyers think of courtroom scenes in films? Do they find them closer to reality now? Are filmmakers portraying the proceedings accurately?

Rakesh Singh, a Bombay High Court lawyer, has words of criticism even for the highly-praised Pink, directed by Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, which came out this year. “Socially, Pink is really good and needs to be applauded, but legally, it is a disaster. It is inaccurate in the way it portrays courtroom decorum. The legal advisors on this film should have kept it more realistic. Even the judge is not in the right attire.”

After the release of Pink, Singh had written a post on Facebook, where he applauded the message and the acting by Amitabh Bachchan and Piyush Mishra, but criticised the legal counsel for the film, stating that they got the IPC and Evidence Act all wrong.

Bombay High Court advocate Ankita Verma feels that the closest the depiction of court proceedings have come to reality was in No One Killed Jessica  (2011). “The way the case was taken gradually in No One Killed Jessica... that was a much more realistic view on how the judiciary and probably on how the entire case worked. So that was quite close to reality, I would say,” says Verma.

Singh wants to watch the Marathi film, Court (2015), to see a more realistic approach to courtroom scenes, but he remembers films like Jolly LLB (2013) and Kyo Kii.. Main Jhoot Nahi Bolta (2001) for its hilarious portrayal of sessions courts. These comedies, apart from being filmed in a very unrealistic manner, were factually incorrect too.

“The lawyers in both these films were wearing a gown during trials. You don’t wear a gown in sessions court. It is only in the High Court and Supreme Court,” says Singh.

Verma feels that no film is close enough to what an advocate’s profession really is. Sunny Deol’s outburst of ‘Tareek pe tareek!” doesn’t happen at all. “I don’t think it is an actual portrayal of an advocate, whichever film you take up. From a real-life perspective, I think [cinema] is very far away from reality.” Verma hopes the industry does a little more R & D when it comes to the law.  

While deemed inaccurate and unrealistic by advocates, Hindi cinema’s courtroom scenes sure are funny, dramatic and entertaining. And as we hope for a better depiction of our legal proceedings in the future, here are some highlights of popular courtroom sequences in films so far.