How can web series contribute to legal literacy for citizens?

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Do legal dramas in movies depict actual courtroom scenes?

Here is an important interview with the Lawyer Dr. Navpreet Kaur on the topic of “legal literacy through entertainment media.Producers, directors, and writers working on web series, dramas, films, or other entertainment platforms can benefit from this talk.

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Legal literacy matters to citizens…

“I have observed from the court based films that they are often represent the facts based on false premises and foundations.”

-Dr. Navpreet Kaur

Click here to read another interview with Dr. Navpreet Kaur https://journals-times.com/2022/03/07/why-are-acid-attacks-on-women-perpetrated-by-gender-biased-mentality/

Recently Amazon Prime has released the “Guilty Minds” (Hindi language )web series. This 10-episode web series is based on Legal dramas.  In this series, the audience can feel the glamorous role of lawyers in the legal system while it should have been more effective as a vital responsibility. Evidence, laws presented by lawyers, and courtroom debates play a critical role in this show. A series of episodes explore such topics as raped issues, artificial intelligence, virtual game-related crime, ongoing artificial pregnancy corruption, and water shortage through the lives and principles of the characters in this drama. Although alcohol, sex, romance, and foul language are a useless part of this drama, it expands the possibilities of legal education and awareness for the entertainment media of the future. It is a kind of fair experiment in the legal related drama, but it could be more serious, more educational, and meaningful for the citizens. The “Guilty Minds” web series entertains but does not delineate the responsibilities and difficulties of an elaborate legal process.

Therefore, the key issue is how the entertainment industry can portray a fair image of the law. If the web series makers bring at the actual cases and the related laws and can show perfect worthful debate in the sight of legal education, how can it affect the common citizen? These answers can be found in the interview below…

A scene of Guilty Minds Web series on Amazon Prime
A scene of Guilty Minds Web series on Amazon Prime

Q. 1 Do you think that debate on any different issues in the courtroom should come in front of the public via films or any drama?

 Dr. Kaur:  Nowadays films occupy a significant portion of the media products consumed by people. Movies can have a significant impact on people and help to change attitudes towards certain groups of people and cause newly formed opinions on various issues. There are significant socio-legal issues including rape, domestic violence, acid attacks, and sedition about which we need to create awareness among the people. Sometimes, in the courtroom, such discussions are made or such decisions are made which becomes landmarks, for example in the case of Aruna Shanbaug which centered on the predicament of dying patients with terminal illnesses, the Nirbhaya Rape case, or Laxmi vs. Union of India discussing the plight of acid attack victims.

The Indian movie industry has created a few films that unabashedly deal with sensitive issues, and forces the audience to ponder on the same by making them uncomfortable. Fewer films still have had the ability to make a lasting impact, one that not only forces the viewers to question the issues raised but actually brings about positive change.

Q.2 How it is important for the public in terms of law-related knowledge?

Dr. Kaur: I believe legal literacy is a kind of empowerment of individuals regarding issues involving the law, which helps promote consciousness of legal rights and duties, participation in the formation of laws, and the rule of law. It truly helps the people to recognize their civil, political, social, and cultural rights. A person can access his or her legal rights only if he or she has the awareness of his rights. It is a known fact that ignorance of legal knowledge magnifies the impact of the legal troubles and difficulties when they take place.  Also, the lack of legal knowledge, legal issues appear bigger than they actually are and make the individual feel unnecessarily intimidated. In India, various Government bodies such as National Legal Services Authority are responsible for creating legal awareness through various institutions. But still, countless people are not aware of their legal rights. Media, social media, the film industry can play an important role in disseminating legal knowledge among the general public.

Dr. Navpreet is with acid attack survivors
Dr. Navpreet is with acid attack survivors

Q.3 Should Entertainment media needs make & present serious drama courtroom-related activities? How it will change people’s attitudes while people still want to avoid going to court for justice!

Dr. Kaur: Filmy entertainment plays a much greater role than just providing enjoyment; it becomes an erroneous source of information that shapes the audience’s realities, altering their view of the real world. What I have observed from the court-based films is that they often represent the facts based on false premises and foundations. They do not adequately show the legal system or its operations, relying instead on fictitious situations and formulas whose sole purpose is the creation of good drama. Legal canon and procedure are ignored, and diversity of people and situations are eliminated in favor of simplified but theatrical formulas. Courtroom films choose to portray impressive buildings and good-looking lawyers. 

Such dramas could somewhere motivate the people to move to the courts for justice but as the process shown in the dramas and reality is totally different, the people could chose to step back. Because the court room process is not as easy as shown in the dramas.

#StopSaleAcid
#StopSaleAcid

Q.4 In your opinion, have the films properly presented the importance of the courtroom?

Dr. Kaur: Courtroom movies or legal dramas are a genre of film in which a system of justice plays a critical role in the film’s narrative. Such films generally express existing attitudes in society regarding the judicial process. The medium of cinema is one that reflects collective approaches, since it is shaped by writers, directors and actors. The movies are made with the purpose which includes not only art or entertainment but also netting profits for the producers and the film industry. Although the judicial system depicted in films may vary from place to place, it seems that they follow a consistent approach in the way in which the law is perceived. A courtroom drama usually offers a fiery orator (actor), an evolving case, thrilling arguments and some degree of resolution but in actual Court does not works like that.  In, short the agenda remains to show drama not the courtroom justice system. There are many films like “Chaitanya Tamhane’s “Court “(2014) which somewhere  tries to show the true picture but some pictures like Pink or Chhapak does not even attempt to give us a truthful picture of the legal process.

Q.5 Is there any scope for improvement & awareness in crimes related acts and the process of seeking justice and judicial processes via films?

Dr. Kaur: Recently I have seen some movies namely “Chappak”, “Pink”, “Thappad” and “Gangajal”, which focused on crimes like acid attacks, rape, domestic violence, and Custodial violence. Every time I watch such a movie the thought comes to my mind that “A society that needs movies to be sensitized about such issues is a problematic one. We all talk about our rights but ignore our duties. Many movies and dramas have been released that target the audience with the purpose to sensitize them. But I have observed that people are not ready to understand the motive of such movies, they just want entertainment.

Very few persons are affected by such movies. The entertainment industry also focus on making cash and likewise people just want to see the romance, thriller, fun in the movies and not a serious issues drama. The film industry is also slow in making meaningful films. Our government should take initiatives to sensitize the people through short films and documentaries, young people should be encourages and sponsored to create meaningful films and such films should be shown free of charge in the easily accessible places.

-Dr. Navpreet Kaur
A scene of movie "Chhapak"
A scene from movie “Chhpaak”

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