Even though the South Indian Film Industry has been repeatedly impressing movie-goers in the last few years, the Kunchako Boban-starrer released this year still left the audience on the floor, rolling with laughter.
Nna Thaan Case Kodu (2022), a slang-laden phrase that literally translates to ‘Sue Me’, is a malayalam-language social commentary film shrouded in simple yet effective comedy. The term refers to the phrase mockingly uttered by those in power when the oppressed in society raise their objections. This movie explores what happens when one such person, a petty thief-turned-labourer named Kozhummal Rajeevan, actually does approach the court.
Rajeevan (Kunchako Boban), a daily wage labourer, was returning from a festival at night when he stopped in front of a house to relieve himself. When a rogue Auto Rickshaw comes haphazardly towards him at a high speed, he jumps over the wall of the house to save his life. Unfortunately for him, the house belongs to an MLA, or Member of the Legislative Assembly. The MLA’s dogs bite him, the papers label him a thief once more and he loses his job. This happens despite the fact that nothing was stolen from the MLA’s house, and Rajeevan was the one severely injured in the debacle with no compensation.
A frustrated Rajeevan approaches the courts in hope of respite. When it becomes apparent that the Auto Rickshaw came to hit him as a result of a chain of events starting with a pothole on the road, he does the incredible. Rajeevan, a poor labourer, decides that the Public Works Department Minister is responsible for his accident (by not repairing the road) and the resulting misfortune and sues him in court.
The Magic lies in the Details:
The casting of this movie is an experiment gone not just right, but great. The actors who played the Magistrate, the Prosecuting Lawyers, and Rajeevan’s lawyer are all real lawyers by profession. Advocate Shukoor is one memorable character who is, in fact, really an Advocate named Shukoor. All these lawyers-turned-actors were recruited via an audition process, and they lent an uncanny realism to their roles.
The characterisation in this movie is both simple and hilarious. This includes the Magistrate who is stern but prone to flattery, the Auto-Driver who refuses to come to court because he doesn’t have a suit, and the old Hindu ladies who come to file a complaint because one of them cursed out the other, but refuse to say the insult because they’re fasting. The characters are charming, funny, and very memorable.
The costume and make-up team behind this movie did a fantastic job. Nearly all the characters in this movie are residents of a small town and everyone is dressed as simply and realistically as possible. Boban himself was heavily tanned, had oiled down hair and had prosthetics in his jaw. At no point does the viewer recall that everyone on screen is an actor; the whole cast truly outdid themselves.
The passage of time in Rajeevan’s legal battle is brilliantly captured not in months or years, but in fluctuating petrol prices. The pains of the long battle are even more apparent when the Judge who delivers the final verdict is different from the Judge who heard the case in the first place (he gets a transfer). A final detail is how Rajeevan’s partner is pregnant throughout the trial and is shown with a small child by the time the verdict is announced.
A Comedy with a Voice:
While plenty of movies get audiences rolling with laughter, very few movies do that and also leave them in contemplation. Nna Thaan Case Kodu raises an old but still important question: In a country like India where the judiciary is overburdened and the politically and economically powerful are abusing their privilege, who will earn justice for the downtrodden common folks?
The movie’s main plot point, that of a labourer suing a state minister, is one that evokes surprise, wonder and awe. Even when legally speaking, both individuals are equal before the law. But the reaction, and the resulting hurdles that Rajeevan’s action brings is a good reminder that it is extremely difficult to bring oppressors to the court and gain respite. The law is meant to protect the public as a whole, but it typically ends up as a protective shield for the rich against the consequences of their own actions.
This reality is so clearly echoed when in a scene, the PWD Minister is giving a speech gloating about how many cases the opposition has filed against him. He concludes this speech with “I will say to you [the opposition] what I say to everyone else; Sue me.” This ending is met with thunderous applause. But when that call-to-action actually happens, he is left shaken to the core. From beginning to end, this movie enthrals viewers with its impeccably humorous plot, the fantastic performances and a decade-old message that India, as a whole, needs to ponder on. To conclude, here is a memorable dialogue that Rajeevan delivered before the verdict is announced:
“They keep saying, ‘Sue us.’ Why is that, sir? Is it because they believe no one will dare to do it, or because they believe we can’t?”
MBA in General Management- FastTrack
Guglielmo Marconi University, Italy
Strategic Human Resource Management Practitioner
Chartered Management Institute, UK
Extended Diploma in International Business and Strategy
Scottish Qualifications Authority, UK
Get in Touch
Fill your details in the form below and we will be in touch to discuss your learning needs