The idea for Court came to Chaitanya Tamhane while he was travelling to film festivals with his short film titled, Six Strands in 2011. The 16-minute film was screened at over a dozen festivals, giving Tamhane the exposure he needed to pursue a full-length feature.

Six Strands is the tale of a woman running a tea plantation in a place named Khagambari, producing the world’s most expensive tea. She guards its secret recipe closely. Her employees are oblivious of its worth as they are paid a pittance for the job, and consider her a conniving cruel witch who controls not only the plantation, but also the entire populace of this mythical land. Even the local currency bears her indelible image.

She spends her time tasting tea and listening to Geeta Dutt’s rendition of the Bengali love ballad Tumi Je Amar (You Are Mine). When the workers learn of their exploitation, rebels begin to disappear.


Filmed as a character study, without a single spoken word, the movie features a woman narrator who begins the story by asking the viewer to keep quiet and not share the secret she is about to reveal. The images in Six Strands are both striking and puzzling – a tapestry of sensations giving viewers a chance to interpret the story from their own memories of childhood, nature, taste and pleasure.

Shot in Darjeeling during a time of political turmoil, the film and its subject had to be kept under wraps as the crew was being monitored by local authorities. Ironically, its mis-en-scene lends itself beautifully to the environment – capturing local visuals and sounds.

Unfolding at its own pace, the short film seems longer than its running time. Court drew the same reaction over its speed. If you haven’t seen Court and want a primer to Tamhane’s work, Six Strands is a good place to start. If you have, then this film cements Tamhane's skills.