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Justice- A Matter of Perception (2020)- Review

Star Rating: ⭑⭑⭑

Directed by: #MohanSinghGaharwar

Written by: #MohanSinghGaharwar

Short Film Review by: Thomas Jay

Produced by ‘Rather Other Guys’, a YouTube hub channel for Indian short films, backed this Gaharwar directed short Justice- A Matter of Perception, a fifteen minute short where a student and his professor sit and discuss two vastly contrasting opinions on the justice system of their country.

As for the subject, the matter at hand is undoubtedly extremely interesting and is practically universal with flaws in the practice of justice in countries all over the globe (I’m sure you’re all aware of the current George Floyd situation and the Cummings situation in the U.K. for an example). And as deep as the problems stretch, the film, to me at least didn’t feel like it grasped much of a rounded perspective at all from either of the two characters. Shush (Rishabh Joshi) is bright eyed and has a rosy view of the law and how it enacted where his professor (Chirag Mandarwaria) has become overly negative and completely disheartened after 13 years of research. The grizzled professor just recounts cases of abhorrent crimes and says very little about the problems in the way they were handled, instead proposing a fairly radical ‘tit for tat’ system that would apparently deter future offences, where his eager student gushes about minimal successes. It feels an awkwardly constructed conversation and probably doesn’t benefit from switching between two spoken languages, the content the two are speaking could be something from a first draft, you’d hope by the end product one would’ve formed an engaging debate that feels like it has life in it, spoken by characters who’s viewpoints adjust, develop and overcome a challenge or new information but unfortunately that isn’t the case here. In a nutshell, it’s massively underdeveloped and is the baby steps of a forming script l, they’re caricatures I’d student/teacher rather than something that resembles reality.

Viewing the film itself was also a bit of a chore, to credit the studio and Garhawar, this (and their other productions) was shot exclusively on IPhone and for the most part is completely serviceable. A format that has been used in High Flying Bird & Unsane by Soderbergh, it’s potentially a new wave of filmmaking and, as I mentioned, it is well executed for the most part in this case, save from a few very jarring shots of the background which are head hurting to say the least. Knowing it’s limits of A very small crew and filming locations it’s cleverly shot and makes the most of very limited resources so credit where it’s due.

Another little issue I picked up was the subtitling, having to use YouTube captions, these were written by someone involved in the film and not the terrible ‘Auto-Generated’ feature by the platform itself, but regardless the translations don’t really matchup with what’s on screen but if you can grasp the language of choice you use, you should have little to no issues in fillings the gaps so it makes sense.

A promising concept and a film that could’ve been a very interesting and complex short had it been further developed and not bogged down by a few ill fitting micro-narrative elements, Justice- A Matter of Perception raises many an interesting question and puts forth a few perspectives but never really manages to portray much of a convincing or structured argument. Interesting in terms of subject and the technical aspects, Justcie available on YouTube is a fairly well made short and at only 15 minutes long is hardly much of a time commitment, so if you’re looking for a short, give it a watch!

Reviewed by: #TomJay


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