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Review Marathi

Khatla Bitla review: Hilarious, almost ridiculous satire on prejudices in Indian society

Release Date: 02 Dec 2020 / 01hr 38min

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Suparna Thombare

Director Paresh Mokashi's satire is a brilliantly written and executed courtroom comedy that unfolds admist a multitude of characters and chaos. 

Khatla Bitla (Court Court) is a satire that blends courtroom drama, commentry on suicide, prejudices in the Indian culture and the accountability of society towards its members.   

Director Paresh Mokashi begins the film with scientific descriptions of earthworms, buffaloes and human beings (important pieces in the puzzle), leading to a courtroom comedy that unfolds steadily, one hilarious scenario and one layer of truth at a time. 

Two strangers, Deepali (Jyoti Wayadande) and Shravan (Abhijeet Pawar) are caught red-handed while attempting suicide in separate rooms of a shady hotel room, during a police raid. They are taken to a fasttrack court where the prosecution tries to prove that the duo need to be held accountable for attempting suicide. 

Embarrassed about the situation and the reasons behind their act, the two try to wiggle their way out, even as their families try their best to save them from the impending punishment. 

When all attempts by the prosecution are rebuffed by the defence, the alleged offenders and their kin, the prosecution has to prove the motive behind their attempted suicide. 

Once it's established that the society's treatment of Deepali's dark complexion and Shravan's baldness were the real reasons for their respective acts, the madness in the court touches a new high.   

Who should be held accountable — the duo or the society that pushed them to take the drastic step? 

The tables turn as the accused turn into victims and the witnesses into culprits. 

The whole case unfolds amidst tons of chaos and hoards of witnesses and forensic proof, which includes the faeces of a buffalo, earthworms, a blade, dupatta and many other elements. 

The court itself is one straight out of Mokashi and Madhugandha Kulkarni's imagination, where almost anything goes. The judge steps down from his seat several times during the proceedings, people present in court are allowed to speak out of turn and the entire court can move outdoor to watch the re-enactment of the alleged crime. 

When the canvas is so colourful, the action that ensues couldn't have been anything, but quirky. 

The resolution is simplistic, but the arguments are deep even though the manner in which they are made are ridiculously hilarious.  

The complete ridiculousness of the case and the arguments are written and executed with utmost finesse. 

Mokashi's screenplay is brilliantly written as he constantly breaks from the current proceedings to flashbacks that reveal more about what ensued before the duo was caught in action, through witness accounts and the stories of accused. 

Each character, including the smallest ones, contribute to the colourfulness of the proceedings. The judge, stenographer, constable, the forensic expert, the police photographer — every character is memorable. 

The director's treatment of the film is like that of a theatre production in many portions as multiple characters move around constantly in the frame and action ensues like it would on stage. 

Cinematographer Sudhir Palsane deserves credit for capturing the madness and making the audience one with the action with his camerawork. 

The best example of that can be found in the scene during the climax where the culprits re-enact the moments before they were caught, by manipulating the various elements in the scene, as the parents, lawyers, police, doctor, forensic expert and the judge play interactive audience accepting or trashing their claims. 

The light-hearted treatment and brilliantly written screenplay and dialogues, by Kulkarni and Paresh Mokashi, give you laugh out loud moments consistently. 

It's reminiscent of the Mokashi's trademark humour, seen previously in acclaimed films like Harishchandrachi Factory and Elizabeth Ekadashi, where comedy ensues and human spirit comes to the fore amidst grim realities of life. 

In the end, the ridiculous treatment of this fast track court and its proceedings mirror the ridiculousness and shallowness of society's prejudices against skin colour for women and baldness for men.

Khatla Bitla was screened at the 17th Pune International Film Festival on 12 January 2019.

Related topics

Pune International Film Festival

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