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Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors Web Review: Tripathi, Kulhari, Goenka empower a gritty tale

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Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors Web Review: Tripathi, Kulhari, Goenka empower a gritty tale

Vijayalakshmi Narayanan

Director : Rohan Sippy, Arjun Mukerjee

Genre : Thriller

Our rating :

Anuradha Chandra (Kirti Kulhari) has all the comforts of marital bliss. A doting husband, a loving daughter and a perfect home. Yet, she stabs her influential husband and reputed lawyer Bikram Chandra (Jisshu Sengupta) with a razor blade knife, leaving their 12-year old daughter scarred, traumatised and the sole witness to the crime. All roads leading to justice are further narrowed when Anuradha admits to the crime. In a seemingly open-and-shut case featuring an influential name from the law fraternity, the odds are against lawyers Madhav Mishra (Pankaj Tripathi) and Nikhat Hussain (Anupriya Goenka) who must defend the accused.

Written by Apurva Asrani, the eight-part series directed by Rohan Sippy and Arjun Mukerjee is a piercing commentary on the nature of abuse, rape, gaslighting and patriarchal conditioning. Broadly taking forward the dialogue initiated by Anubhav Sinha's 'Thappad', 'Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors' holds a strong gaze against how women who upend the gender scales in the society are subjected to supervision, ridicule and isolation. Two police officers who are married to one another find themselves conflicted upon their ideologies while pursuing the case. A seemingly well-meaning, city-bred man is struggling to officiate his marriage with a woman who hails from a smaller town in comparison. Women are equally responsible alike men in propagating slander towards other women. Despite an ongoing investigation and media trial, the narrative smartly takes a dig at how social media and the public in general run a parallel trial based on unverified developments. This is much needed introspection in a day and age where social media warriors consider themselves propellers of justice. It also emphasises upon how awareness around mental health should be discussed and championed for more pro-actively. Editors Abhijeet Deshpande and Sourabh Prabhudesai ensure that the conversations around these themes are smartly woven with the central plot without letting anything stick out as a sore thumb. Shot by Tribhuvan Babu Sadineni, the scenario is largely discomforting, especially the portions filmed in the jail, which had me shutting my eyes often.

Empowered by striking performances by Tripathi, Kulhari and Goenka primarily, 'Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors' is a testament of a fine storyline lifted by a commendable starcast. It is impossible to look away from any project starring Tripathi. 2020 has seen the actor play a feminist father, a dreaded Mafiosi, an eccentric criminal and an emphatic lawyer with the trademark calmness that only he exudes. As Madhav Mishra, the actor is gentle, witty and firm, in equal measure. Kulhari has always been an excellent performer who has charted her filmography with impressive choices in 'Uri: The Surgical Strike', 'Mission Mangal' and 'Four More Shots Please', since her breakout moment with 'Pink'. As Anuradha, Kirti is a canvas of emotions. She bares the character's vulnerabilities and doubts without reducing it to a sorry figure. Goenka has an arresting presence given her benevolent smile. As Nikhat, the actor pursues the trial with a human gaze, going beyond the line of her profession. You root for her in the courtroom scenes even when the chances of winning seem bleak. Mita Vasisht and Deepti Naval add grace and authority to their parts. Ashish Vidyarthi as the prosecution lawyer is ruthless and pragmatic. Ajeet Singh Palawat and Kalyanee Mulay as the investigating police officials are top-notch. Shilpa Shukla as Anuradha's inmate Eshani is rightfully ambiguous. Khushboo Atre as Madhav's wife is endearing and Adrija Sinha channels the trauma of a young daughter ably as Rhea Chandra.

'Criminal Justice: Behind Closed Doors' is essential viewing for a society that wishes to be better informed about consent and mental health.

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