Patna Shuklla review: Gender dynamics, corruption and the yearn for justice makes this film a compelling courtroom drama

Aishwarya Srinivasan
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Patna Shukla review

With a stellar cast and a riveting subject, Patna Shuklla grows on you as the plot unfolds!

Patna Shuklla review: Directed by Vivek Budakoti, Patna Shuklla is the story of Tanvi Shukla (Raveena Tandon), a lawyer who is juggling her personal and professional life. At work she handles inconsequential court cases and at home she handles all the household chores because of course only a woman is expected to do so. The plot takes a significant turn when a young girl, Rinki Kumari comes to her for help because she feels her mark sheet has been tampered with. The more Tanvi dug deeper into this case, the more skeletons she found in the closet, including some that were difficult for her to digest. She finds out all of this was orchestrated by Raghubeer Singh, the son of Bihar’s Chief Minister. She knew messing with someone so influential could damage her life and it does when her home is broken down and her husband too faces an investigation at work. How she navigates all of this while also giving Rinki her justice is the crux of the film.

‘Patna’ Shuklla is a name she earns from the media as someone who is dedicated towards winning this case. But it is beyond just a juicy courtroom drama, it highlights many societal issues as well at the same time. Firstly, how Tanvi is a woman shattering the glass ceiling of a man’s world. She has to earn her place in the courtroom and at home. While fighting cases in the courtroom, from the judge to the lawyer on the opposing side, everyone underestimates her arguments. She is often belittled because of her gender and has even been at the receiving end of demeaning remarks like ‘your place is in the kitchen’. It is a sad but true portrayal of what women are expected to do the minute they have even a minute amount of power. At home, even though she earns and has a career just like her husband, she has to do all the cooking, make sure her son’s life is on schedule and at the end of the day it is the woman who will serve food while her family sits on the table. She does all of this with love and without any complaints at all. But it disheartens her to see when her husband cannot respect her in front of his colleagues. Just to make his colleagues’ wives feel better about being housewives, he undersells what Tanvi does at work too. ‘Oh she just handles a few small cases and is good at making an affidavit’ is how describes her career in a short demeaning log line.

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But as the story progresses, he realizes he isn’t married to a Yes woman, he is married to someone who speaks her mind and he learns to respect that eventually. Coming to the actual matter this film is based on, which is an educational scam that ruins lives of the poor by tampering with their mark sheet. This is an important subject to portray and bring to light. Rinki’s mark sheet was tampered with so that someone from a rich and influential family could get her marks and graduate. In the greed of money, Raghubeer leads a corruption racket which comes to light when a rickshaw driver's daughter, Rinki challenges him against all odds. Tanvi’s will and determination to win this case is what gives Neelkanth a tough fight in court. While he buys the witness' testimony, Tanvi brings Rinki the justice she deserves. The entire court case reflects on how the life of low income families is ruined by power and money. It is the battle of the poor vs the rich and to unmask a disloyal government which the film does really well.

The performances of the film are the reason why you’re lured into the story. Raveena Tandon as the lead character perfectly fits into the many hats she adorns in this film. She is a doting mother, a fierce lawyer and the one who stands up for herself every time she is taken lightly. It was nostalgic to see the late Satish Kaushik portray his last character on-screen. As a judge, he is torn between his instincts and facts, and his equation with Tanvi will warm your heart. Him and Sushmita Mukherjee as his wife, create some much needed comical scenes in the film to keep things light hearted. Chandan Roy Sanyal as the defendant makes for a witty opponent who thinks on his feet and constantly punches loopholes in Tanvi’s arguments. His switch from speaking fluent English to fluent Bihari is seamless and he does that with conviction. Rinki played by Anushka Kaushik has that helplessness in her eyes that her character needs. 

The climax makes Tanvi question her entire life but why is that is something I’ll leave for everyone to find out. Overall, Patna Shuklla is the story of the underdogs who nobody thought would win; the ant who overthrew the powerful elephant just with strategy and some luck. It touches upon how a male and female lawyer in the same courtroom are treated so differently. Although there are a few melodramatic scenes in the film, they barely last for long and hence can be overlooked to focus on the bigger message that the film is trying to convey. 

Patna Shukla is currently streaming on Disney+Hotstar!

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raveena tandon Satish Kaushik Chandan Roy Sanyal Manav Vij Anushka Kaushik vivek budakoti