The Trial is a curate’s egg of a show

Kajol plays the protagonist Noyonika Sengupta in The Trail—Pyaar, Kaanoon, Dhokha. Photo: Think Ink Communications

Not having watched The Good Wife, the original of this series, I cannot comment on how well or otherwise this show has been adapted. However, comparisons, even if odious, do spring to mind with other Indian legal dramas and family crime stories that include a range of shows like Guilty Minds, Illegal, Aarya and more. Ah, yes, Aarya too had been a rework.

In the final analysis, however, The Trial—Pyaar, Kaanoon, Dhokha ends up as a curate’s egg of a show—good in parts, much like Illegal. There are pluses like the emotional highs and lows, but nothing that grips you by way of twists or sudden developments that swing a welcome (from the narrative point of view) surprise. But there are negatives too.

Kajol’s on-off narration also seems to be a convenient ploy more than a dramatic device. The characterizations are generally well-done, but there are flaws and loopholes in the narration. The issue with writing reviews is that such spoilers cannot be revealed, as many will watch a series or movie because or even despite the critic’s viewpoint!

The realism comes in with the way the series shows a law firm dealing with several cases at one time. There is competition within the company, as the forty-plus protagonist Noyonika Sengupta (Kajol) is vying with the young Dheeraj (Gaurav Pandey) to become a permanent employee, and both are in need of money.

Noyonika has to support her family, comprising of two daughters (Shruti Bisht and Suhani Juneja) as her husband, attorney-turned-judge Rajiv (Jisshu Sengupta) has been arrested in a sex-scandal.

Rajiv, generally, is a man not to be trusted, though his regressive-minded mother (Beena Banerjee) adores him. He has been involved in not only pleasures of the flesh but also shady deals. Noyonika, who is now studiedly angry with him, gets into the law firm only because of an old college flame, Vishal (Alyy Khan), who is a partner in it. Vishal has remained single, and still has hopes from her.

Vishal’s partners are the doughty and placidly ruthless Malini (Sheeba Chaddha) and the dementia-afflicted senior Kishore (Kiran Kumar). A loyal friend of Rajiv is the gray (even in his hair!)-toned Ilyas (Aseem Hattangadi), while Sana (Kubbra Sait), who is part of Rajiv’s dubious history, is a counsel who is loyal to Noyonika till the end.

The other principal characters are the very ‘filmi’ villain, Sharad Jhadav (Rituraj Singh), the unbelievably audacious and irresponsible news anchor Daksh (Atul Kumar), the girl with whom the sex video is taped and leaked—Tina (Aditi Singh) and the cop Pradeep Shinde (Aamir Ali), who takes his love, Sana, for granted.

Add cases won and lost by the firm (the gray areas of law versus truth are depicted skillfully), Rajiv’s constant refrain (“I will fix everything!”), Noyonika’s attempts to balance of work and life and her steady disdain for her husband, and Vishal’s confused feelings towards Noyonika, and we get the essence of The Trial. But there are two vital sore points: one, how can a TV anchor sway the nation’s viewers even against court judgments to the extent he does, and two, what is Sharad Jhadav (a small point: the second name is always spelt ‘Jadhav’)’s exact enmity with Rajiv’s and Noyonika’s family?

The end (with some issues unresolved) seems to be designed for a possible sequel. But it left me strangely dissatisfied, as audience gratification is missing in the way we got it at the end of each season of Aarya, to again get into odious comparison mode.

The script is just adequate, and as said earlier, I cannot comment on how it rates vis-à-vis the original, but as a standalone story, it could have been much better structured. Suparn Verma’s direction has a similar issue. The background music could have been more evocative too. In any web series where indoor shoots take precedence, a minimal technical standard is basic nowadays, and The Trial does cross that level. However, the editing (Ninad Khanolkar) could have been sharper while being less jerky.

The performances do add the sheen not there in the script or direction. As always, Kajol is brilliant, though this time, I did find a certain lack of fluidity in her quicksilver expressions. But that may also be due to her understanding of Noyonika, who is a cynical mixture of angst and desperation, or at the instructions of her director.

Jisshu Sengupta is low-key and quite bland, while Alyy Khan, seen in an Indian show after over a decade, is effective as Vishal. The children are naturally adorable and Beena Banerjee etches a mother, grandma and mother-in-law with the right mix of helplessness and obnoxiousness.

As usual, Sheeba Chaddha as Malini is an effortless scene-stealer. This consummate performer can clearly do just about anything! Kiran Kumar as Kishore is delightful in his limited but complex role. Aseem Hattangady, Kubbra Sait and Gaurav Pandey are perfectly cast and do very well, and Atul Kumar’s uni-dimensional character is also interestingly played out by that bankable actor. Manasvi Mamgai and Aditi Singh, playing extremes among the women, are efficient, though the former could have done with some expressiveness. And given his flimsily-etched role, Rituraj Singh does very well. Aamir Ali, however, overplays.

This show could have been a memorable emotional journey of a strong woman. Instead, it reaches a little past halfway, and thus, so will my rating.

Rating: *** 

Disney+Hotstar presents Banijay Asia’s & Ajay Devgn Ffilms’ The Trail—Pyaar Kanoon Dhokha Produced by: Ajay Devgn, Deepak Dhar, Rajesh Chadha & Parag Desai  Directed by: Suparn Verma  Written by: Michelle King & Robert King, Hussain Dalal, Abbas Dalal & Siddharth Kumar  Music: Sangeet Haldipur-Siddharth  Haldipur  Starring: Kajol, Jisshu Sengupta, Alyy Khan, Sheeba Chaddha, Kiran Kumar, Shruti Bisht, Suhani Juneja, Aseem Hattangady, Kubbra Sait, Gaurav Pandey, Beena Banerjee, Aditi Singh, Manasvi Mamgai, Atul Kumar, Aamir Ali, Rituraj Singh, Suchitra Pillai, Vijay Vikram Singh, Flora Saini & others





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