Suspending Disbelief

We read a lot of fantasy so, even if we do say so ourselves, our imagination muscles are well toned, stretched and in fighting fit order. As a result fantasy concepts and characters are not only acceptable but also looked forward to within their storylines : Parallel worlds – bring them on, Dragons – St. George killed one, so they are as real as saints, Unicorns – live just across the wall, Elves – they have been around for ever, even Tolkien wrote about them, Aliens – real enough that Steven Hawkins is concerned about us trying to make contact.  But even we have our limits and the one thing we have difficulty suspending disbelief over is the portrayal of the law by Bollywood. The recent movie “Pink”, though a well-made movie with good acting and about a topic of great concern (the way women are viewed in society) has us bemoaning the legal inaccuracies throughout the movie. When making a movie about very real situations, is it not incumbent upon the makers to not fantastically alter something which pervades every aspect of our lives?

PS: I can never understand why all the movies that have legal content also take the trouble to have legal consultants and yet never bother to listen to any advice they may have given. And why then are those consultants willing to take credit for these inaccuracies by having their names displayed in the titles?

LL: It’s almost as if they just want their name on screen but are not bothered that legal procedure has been murdered. In “Pink”, although the IPC (Indian Penal Code) sections were all accurately quoted, the poor Criminal Procedure Code was given a complete go by.

PS: Not only procedure but most Bollywood movies deny the existence of the Indian Evidence Act. Will someone please tell them, that a black coat, bands, a judge and a witness stand and a lot of shouting are not the only requirements for a trial!

LL: Of course those may be the only requirements for a ‘trial by camera’. Rather than a trail ‘in camera’.(tee hee)

PS: Seriously, this is why I prefer watching Hollywood legal thrillers because I don’t have to worry whether the procedure is correct or not.  Though they may be overly dramatized, it seems, at least to us, that the basics are sound. At least they don’t present evidence out of the blue in court and stun everybody.

LL: Or present arguments in the middle of cross examination like in some of the other Bollywood movies that we have seen.

PS: The most exasperating one is when suddenly  you have witnesses being examined and cross examined in an appeal.

LL: Though the general public may not understand most of it, surely it is incumbent on the producers to ensure a modicum of accuracy. In “Pink” the public prosecutor, in his closing arguments, actually refers  to the complainants, as his clients! I mean really, doesn’t everyone know that the public prosecutor represents the State. And to compound it, in acquitting the accused, the judge also extends his jurisdiction and holds the complainants guilty. Without a separate trial!

As lawyers we find it very difficult to enjoy a movie with such massive bloopers. Surely accuracy is not going take away from the drama of a good story and tight editing.We continue to live in hope that at some point directors and producers will stop being lazy, stop taking ‘artistic license’ this far and stop treating legal procedure as if it was Fantasy.



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