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Guilty Minds A Solid Engrossing Legal Drama



Guilty Minds

Guilty Minds(Amazon Prime Video; 10 Episodes)

Created  & Directed  by  Shefali  Bhushan; Co-directed  by  Jayant Digambar Samalkar,

Rating: ****

It is not as  if this  series blows  your mind off with its legal  wisdom. Nor is it only about getting the  courtroom sequences right. Both in place, Guilty Minds  sets out to score points for being able to  hijack our attention for ten  episodes.  Not  all of it  is  equally  engrossing. But the  storytelling even when faltering and fumbling to cram in  too many  social issues(including an utterly unnecessary  child-abuse  end-game) never ceases  to be compelling.

Primarily, Guilty Minds  works  because  it doesn’t try to penetrate  too far  into the minds  of  the perpetrators. It  is all done on the  surface level, but with immense care and  concentration, so that an impression of focused  narration and  uninterrupted tension is  created even  when the plot meanders  into the  characters’ personal lives which we are not really interested in.

To cite one instance  of overstatement, why did we need  Sugandha Garg’s lawyer-character’s sexual orientation to be  part of  the over-crowded narrative? We are interested in what she does in the courtroom,  not in her activities in the  bedroom. Likewise  the love-hate  relationship between the  protagonists Kashaf Quaze and Deepak Rana, played with passable panache  by  Shriya Pilgaonkar and Varun Mitra(the latter clearly lacking the  sophistication that his character aspires  to) is  like over-juicing   the goings-on.

Namrata  Sheth as Deepak Rana’s  wide-eyed  seductive  assistant Shubangi Khanna is appealing in her  combination of  innocence and  stealth. She is  quite the scenestealer in a  series where no actor seems too keen to out-score.

The  interpersonal relationships are nominally  interesting when they least try to be so. The way  a nosy  journalist(Diksha Juneja)  uses  her lawyer-boyfriend(Pranay Pachauri) , the heir apparent of a posh law-firm, to  glean information  about  confidential cases, seems  more a convenient plot point than an organic  necessity.                                                                The tendency to  lay  it on thick gets in the way  of  the otherwise-researched  impressively  cast narrative. Each  episode is self-contained and hence skip-watching is out  of  the  question. I  particularly liked the  first and fourth episodes  about the casting couch and music  plagiarism, probably because I  know these characters.

In Episode 1 Karishma Tanna  plays  an abused actress who digs  up  dirt from a award-winning director’s  past and ensures his downfall. Although I  found the  resolution of  a tangled   problem  facile,the episode survived the  onslaught of fake accents  and irrelevant  optimism: directors in  Hindi cinema don’t get prosecuted for sleeping with  heroines.

Episode 4 on the ongoing debate on plagiarism  in  Hindi  film music relies on  its solid research base—there is  even a reference to composer Ram Sampat taking  filmmaker Rakesh Roshan to court over copyright infringement. Shakti Kapoor as a  staunchly  original  music composer lets  the  episode  acquire wings  , sadly clipped in some  other stories, like the one on ‘Taisty Cola’ using up all the water resources  in  a  village for its factory(didn’t work for me) or an app called Alola  being taken to court for taking  clients for a ride(didn’t work).

In Episode 2 a  child  becoming  unduly influenced by a  video game  into  resorting to  murder and in Episode 5 a feisty Bihari unwed mother suing  the hell out of her employers for sacking her , were  interesting  and  packed with  saucy  innuendos. Some  episodes  like the one about an intelligence officer unearthing a government racket getting murdered  or the one  about on the an IVF mother suing the fertility company which helped her with her pregnancy, just don’t add  up, nor   come to a satisfying culmination.

Even when  unfinished , the stories hold  our attention.They convey a ring of truth even in their ,most flaccid  moments. The  climax has  Satish Kaushik  and Veerendra Saxena  running through the forest chasing down a 15-year old boy who has seen  them  commit a crime.Time  to rest  the case.

Some of  the incidental dialogues are unintentionally  funny. When  the  over-weening journalist   addresses a woman  in khaki as a  lady, the  “lady”  barks back, “Madame, Lady nahin hoon constable hoon.”

After the same journalist has some wild sex with her boyfriend he  asks, “Slow  enough for you?”

Luckily for us, it is  the other way around.

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