To emit: Kirti Kulhari, Pankaj Tripathi, Jisshu Sengupta, Adrija Sinha, Anupriya Goenka, Mita Vashisht, Ashish Vidyarthi, Deepti Naval
director: Rohan Sippy and Arjun Mukherjee
Classification: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
Anuradha Chandra (Kirti Kulhari) stabs her lawyer and husband Bikram Chandra (Jisshu Sengupta) one night. The deed done, he calls the emergency services and leaves his luxurious apartment. The man lies bleeding in bed and his 12-year-old daughter Rhea (Adrija Sinha) is left alone to deal with the aftermath.
The stage is set for Criminal justice: behind closed doors, a follow-up to the eight-part Hotstar Specials from the 2019 series. We know what happened. The whys and whys remain a mystery to the end because the accused is completely silent. For the prosecution, it is an open and closed case. For defense lawyers Madhav Mishra (Pankaj Tripathi) and Nikhat Hussain (Anupriya Goenka), there is more than meets the eye.
Directed by Rohan Sippy and Arjun Mukherjee – four episodes each – and fueled by a handful of flawless performances from Pankaj Tripathi, Kirti Kulhari, and Anupriya Goenka, the series follows an emotionally fragile and painfully reticent woman caught in the grip of Indian justice and prison system.
The investigation, the charge sheet and the trial sessions last for a period of ten months. That is the time it takes a woman to give birth. In fact, a mid-series delivery is a key plot point tied to a big reveal. One can see the twist coming from afar, which greatly undermines the element of surprise.
If you are looking for an exciting suspense, Criminal Justice S2 it could be somewhat disappointing. But more than a thriller, the show is a multi-pronged relationship drama. This is how it works best. It is about the “rebirth” not only of the protagonist, one of the most fickle prisoners. a supporting character who gets considerable footage, is described as a zinda laash (living corpse) waiting for death (kabr ke intezaar mein) – but also from several other women who are being treated unfairly.
The slow-burning tale offers details on dribbles rather than hammering them. He takes his time to remove the layers that hide the truth. Behind them is a web of lies and assumptions that is put to the test in a courtroom in the last two episodes.
Episode one provides a neat, cracked, and interesting build-up. It is not the rhythm that catches our attention, but the constant tightening of the screws amid the growing intrigue. While the subsequent focus is firmly on the fate of the defendant and how the law treats her, the show is not a one-dimensional affair.
Screenwriter Apurva Asrani cleverly indigenizes Season 2 of the award-winning British series written a decade ago by Peter Moffat. The adaptation retains its cultural specificity even as it exposes universal truths not only about abuse, crime and punishment, but also about contemporary Indian society in general.
The prison where Anu Chandra (Kirti Kulhari) is staying is hell. The scarred woman has to fend off the hostility of hardened inmates, many of them on trial for murder, and deal with unhealthy and unhealthy conditions. Theirs is a physical and mental ordeal. The bond he forges with two inmates, including the rasoi in charge Ishani (Shilpa Shukla), is tenuous at best.
An advocate (a magnificent Ashish Vidyarthi), who appears at the end of the drama, quotes the Manusmriti to define the role of women in the family and in society. “Principal sirf desh aur dharm ki seva karna chahta hoon (I just want to serve my country and my religion), “he says pompously. It is easy to see why he is determined to make an example of Anu Chandra.
Not everyone who opposes Anu is as antediluvian as this seasoned prosecutor, but everyone else heroin has to deal with in the police system and in prison sees it as a blow to the “natural” order of things. .
The show begins with legal luminary Bikram Chandra winning a case on behalf of the wife and son of a lynched Dalit man. A little later it is revealed that this success came after the defender secured justice for a Muslim victim of violence. While enjoying the media attention, the intercalations and brief exchanges between him and his wife reveal the latter’s delicate state and point towards the probability that the relationship is riddled with puzzles.
The show delves into several other marital relationships. Madhav’s marriage, for example, seems not to be a start. His wife Ratna (Khusboo Atre) – who had left her on their wedding night and took a flight from Patna to take over Anu’s case – lands in Mumbai without notice. But the lawyer, otherwise a perfectly reasonable man, has no inclination to be the husband she wants.
Gauri Pradhan (Kalyanee Mulay) and Harsh Pradhan (Ajeet Singh Palawat), two policemen, are a happily married couple stationed at the same police station. His equations, professional and personal, influence not only Anu Chandra’s fate, but also, obviously, how his own relationship develops.
Another marriage that is about to end: we never see the man; has left his wife for another woman – alludes to sometimes. The abandoned wife is the mother of Nikhat (Komal Chhabria). She still lives in the hope of a reconciliation. The daughter, however, is determined not to allow her estranged father to return to their lives.
Criminal justice: behind closed doors takes a moderate and deliberate pace and tone and puts pressure on them in the service of a plot that moves and twists one way and then the other as the defendant’s attorneys take on their own fraternity and the Mumbai police on behalf of a woman who has everything but lost her will to fight.
The controlled narrative flow and refined acting allow the gravity and density of the tale to keep its course. Several of the key actors (Tripathi, Goenka, Mita Vashisht, Pankaj Saraswat) reprise the roles they played in season 1 and they know exactly what they have to do in a low-key crime drama.
Like the modest but unshakable Madhav Mishra, Pankaj Tripathi combines the seriousness of a man on a mission and the sense of humor of someone who is unwilling to take anything so seriously as to go blind.
Anupriya Goenka was great in season 1. She’s even better here. Playing attorney Nikhat Hussain, who teams up with Madhav Mishra in defending the defendant, matches her formidable move from co-star to motion, embodying a woman who fights not only to save a client but also to prove herself worthy of the. he is wearing black robe.
Kirti Kulhari, playing the distraught and disoriented woman whose youngest daughter is taken from her and placed in a child welfare home where the girl is open to manipulation by her grandmother Vijji Chandra (Deepti Naval) and main defender Mandira Mathur (Mita Vashisht).
Anu Chandra could easily have turned into a caricature wallowing in misery, were it not for Kulhari’s intuitive and empathetic portrayal of a cornered woman: the audience is committed to their destiny even when their urges are difficult to understand. Apurva Asrani’s script lends the stoic character of the classic Greek tragic heroine.
Like legal drama Criminal Justice S2 it’s pretty close to being top-notch. But it’s her keen exploration of women seeking equality in life and work that elevates the series to a higher plane.