Web Review: Guilty Minds keeps it largely real

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Varun Mitra in Guilty Minds. Photo: Instagram / Varun Mitra

As claimed during the promotions, Guilty Minds is a legal show that keeps it real. There are no gavel-hitting judges, no bombastic dialogues from counsel or clients, no oaths taken, no over-the-top judges and a lot of reality that can be called gray zones.

However, the long 10-episode series does get to not-so-believable areas in some issues. The Delhi firm of lawyers—Khanna, Khanna & Associates—and the young counsel Kashaf Quaze are summoned for cases as far away as Mumbai, which as a city surely has a crack team of lawyers within town! More piquantly, the two (as defense as well as prosecution counsel) are both summoned by opposite sides!

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Also, the series tends to dole out the assumption that young lawyers are generally so well off that they drive expensive cars and dine and wine lavishly every other night at glitzy pubs and restaurants! And also all cases seem to be fast-tracked in court and done with in the matter of a few days. So the angles in all the legal wrangles choose their own chosen dollops of fictionalized drama and licenses in the narration.

But in its own way, Guilty Minds does remain an intriguing legal drama. For one, the 10-episodes are not merely about ten cases but often coalesce and merge seamlessly into one another. Some issues (like a case of a child’s murder or an earlier error of judgment—pun intended!—by a Supreme Court judge) go on as undercurrents.

The protagonists, Kashaf (Shriya Pilgaonkar) and Deepak (Varun Mitra) are old college friends and now work separately, often finding themselves at opposing sides in the courtrooms, arguing fiercely even as they remain friends who want to be more than friends. Happily, the drama does not dwell on the fact that Deepak is a Hindu and Kashaf a Muslim, though it does look sharply at their back-stories!

Kashaf is also an idealist to the core, while Deepak will do anything to get at the truth. Kashaf has a deputy, Vandana (Sugandha Garg), who tends to follow the Deepak school of thought of the end justifying the means if it morally correct.

However, she is in a lesbian relationship with Sunanda Bose (Chitrangada Satarupa). Now, needless trysts with gay relationships in web series in the name of being progressive and globally appealing should be junked—this is the second consecutive series I have watched (after London Files) that shows homosexual bonds that, if absent, would not have altered the storyline a whit. And, simply, I do not see why such a “diversion” is used just to look “with-it” and trendy.

The variety in the cases adds to the interest and excitement, especially since the drama is created out of the situations, and the directors make it a point to grip and entertain us minus any over-the-top sequences. There is a driverless car, a purloined tune, a dating App that is fleecing subscribers, a pregnant woman being thrown out of her own company, a sex determination racket, a cola company misusing natural resources at the expense of the villagers, and more.

In fact, the very aim of the series seems to be in highlighting hazy angles in legality and law. But the intention seems as much to show us that the best or most idealistic of men and women are sometimes persuaded or compelled to make that small foray into indiscretion or into the wrong side of law, or cater to the darker side of their characters, while others simply take the easy way out by running away from the problem.

The case where the security officer is murdered and it is touted to be a suicide case is also one of the best of this series. The gray zones encountered by judges who have to clinically give judgment that they are not personally comfortable with also comes in. Office politics and love also come in, and also the crucial aspect of how a counsel must do his best for a client.

To achieve these notable ends, the two directors-co-writers—one hails from a family of lawyers and must have seen and heard it all—bring in interesting characters on the plot’s key sidelines too, like Tejinder Bhalla (Satish Kaushik), a self-made liquor baron, his golden-hearted coke-addict son son Kitu (Deepak Kalra), the mischievous female detective (Sukiya Aiyar, delightful) and the ambitious and often manipulative TV anchor, Riya Singh (Diksha Juneja).

The performances are top-class, led by Shriya Pilgaonkar as Kashaf and Varun Mitra as Deepak. Excellent work comes in from Namrata Sheth as Shubhangi, Deepak Kalra as Kitu, Kulbhushan Kharbanda as L.N. Khanna, the legal eagle patriarch, and Diksha Juneja as Riya. Shakti Kapoor as the aggrieved composer is superb, while Satish Kaushik as Tejinder is effective if routine, as also Benjamin Gilani as Kashaf’s father, Chief Justice Munnawar Quaze. But Pranay Pachauri as the jealous Shubhrat and Virendra Saxena as the wily politician are too stereotyped.

Thankfully, the show isn’t.

Rating: ***1/2

Amazon Prime Video presents Singro Media Innovation’s Guilty Minds   Created by: Shefali Bhushan  Produced by: Karan Grover  Directed by: Shefali Bhushan & Jayant Digambar Somalkar  Written by: Shefali Bhushan, Jayant Digambar Somalkar, Manav Bhushan & Deeksha Gujral  Music: Sagar Desai Starring: Shriya Pilgaonkar, Varun Mitra, Sugandha Garg, Namrata Sheth, Satish Kaushik, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Benjamin Gilani, Pranay Pachauri, Diksha Juneja, Sadhana Singh, Deepak Kalra, Chitrangada Satarupa, Virendra Saxena, Vasundhara Kaul, Dinker Sharma, Akshay Baghel, Sukita Aiyar, Shakti Kapoor, Karishma Tanna, Suchita Krishnamoorthy & others

 

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