The first-ever Indian legal drama on Amazon Prime Video, Guilty Minds breaks the stereotypes of legal dramas and soars high without compromising on the storytelling.
They say lawyers are no more than storytellers whose stage is the courtroom because they look at all the grey areas in a case and present them as black and white arguments, whichever one befits their case at that moment. And when we're living in a climate riddled with new conflicts and modern duality every day, a hot serving dish is commonly found at every dinner table dividing the house in two. Spread over 10 episodes, Guilty Minds is neither boasting of truth, rants of judgments, nor preaching big social messages, rather it becomes a mirror and honest depiction of the society and the profession that it's representing. Created with intense research, authenticity, and intelligent craft-making, the series is easy to understand and extremely engaging.
Each episode deals with a different case living on the edge of conflict with two sides and two truths layering it with detailed facts and precise arguments. And this duality isn't limited to the courtroom, these two Delhi lawyers - our ideological and living in black and white, Kashaf Quaze (Shriya Pilgaonkar) is always head to head with her college friend who lives in the grey, the vivacious Deepak Rana (Varun Mitra) are as much a part of this contradictory world as personal principles and professional integrity is. Amongst the 10 episodes, 4 cases are on tech VS old age where judges represent the changing world, 3 cases are on gender bias, and the rest focus on issues of politics and power.
The nuanced and complex writing and direction by the creators, Shefali Bhushan, and Jayant Digambar Somalkar of different cases and the series altogether makes you go on a whirlwind round of meaning and reason nudging you to see the undercurrent flawed notions of humanity and society. Every win has a loss hidden in it and even the characters are not barred from this, each and everyone from lawyers to clients is looked at from the gaze of greyness. And while these different cases engage you in a battle with yourself, it's the larger theme that binds the storyline for the characters which makes you feel closer to them further. And this is where the brilliance of Guilty Minds lies as it cuts off the fatal invisible scale of 'right' and 'wrong' and moral judgment and balances it on a scale of fact and fiction without forgetting to tell you a compelling story.
Kashaf and Deepak are polar opposites of each other in their ideologies and represent different aspects of their profession. While Kashaf is a human rights lawyer whose principles are very dear to her, Deepak is a tough one to break and figure out as he's the man of the world but not a shrewd one. They are rivals in the courtroom but both of them often make sense in their arguments. They also try to maintain a healthy and mature friendship outside of court. The dedication with which Shriya Pilgaonkar and Varun Mitra have performed their characters makes you see no difference between them and their characters. Especially after talking to Varun in this interview, Varun and Deepak felt the same to me!
Sugandha Garg as Vandana and Namrata Sheth as Shubhangi Khanna leave a lasting impact and break stereotypes with their gripping yet not too in the face storyline. Vandana is queer and in a live-in relationship with her Bengali girlfriend. She is also the successful neutral point between Kashaf and Deepak's extremities personalities. And Shubhangi is a Harvard graduate aka a wealthy child who works as Deepak's trainee. Kulbhushan Kharbanda and Satish Kaushik were as endearing as ever while the cameos by known artists were also commendable and memorable.
But more than anything it's the production design, editing, and the opening credits which steal the show away in mere seconds. The exceptional production team takes you right inside a real courtroom where the lights go off anytime or cramped fans barely work in a cramped space. The editing by Navnita Sen with its perfect cuts shortens the long stretches without exactly rushing the story. The opening credits with their art and music composed by Sagar Desai, sung by Swanand Kirkire, and lyrics by Shellee, are so addictive that you can't skip them even once in 10 episodes.
There are a few discrepancies like Kashaf's childhood trauma not being explored, Deepak's whistleblower arc, the mainstream reporter who literally begs for every story, and a little dramatic end to the show which doesn't necessarily take away from the show but doesn't really fit in this otherwise well-constructed narrative as well. It takes a while to warm up to the show because it's less focused on the dramatics though but that says more about my stereotype towards legal dramas rather than the show.
But Guilty Minds is a well-crafted and brilliantly constructed legal drama that is as impactful as it is real. And where the concept of justice in itself is complex and truth has various versions attached to it, this show does a fabulous job of representing all sides of conflicts, contradictions, and prospects leaving it up to your mind to find the guilt.
Guilty Minds is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video!
Also Read: The audience definitely ruled its decision in favor of the courtroom drama, Guilty Minds!
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