Dr Khusi Pattanayak 

By the end of 8 episodes you realise The TrialPyaar Kaanoon Dhokha (Hindi, 2023) is limping under its own pressure. Though an easy to watch narrative, the web-series hardly presents any vivid characters, emotional drama, or high-octane surprises.

Towards the end of the The Trial the phrase ‘good wife’ is uttered few times, as if extending a verbal acknowledgement to its original source The Good Wife (American series). The only problem- the layered complexity of the original is lost in translation; and what we have is a very amateurish take on life and its challenges.

The only aspect that works for me (and might not work for majority) are those court-room subplots. These bite sized distractions were much better than the central plotline which promises to run endlessly.

Everything in the series is superficial. Noyanika’s (the protagonist, played by Kajol) struggle is a joke. After her husband’s arrest and a much-publicized media-trial she moves in with her kids to a smaller apartment. With all the moveable and immovable assets frozen, almost 6 months of school fees pending for both kids, Mercedes sold, and Noyanika running around for a permanent job, one expects to see some kind of visual reflection of the crisis. But what we have is just another smaller sized posh house with all the amenities in place.

Clichéd scenes about second hand car not functioning, kids embarrassed because of the sudden fall in their social status, someone offering monetary help, regressive mom-in-law making snidey remarks about congested place, random remark on how the elite study in expensive schools, don’t add much to the existential conflict.

The writing is as bad as the background score. The script is commonplace, littered with cardboard characters and unreasonable most of the time. There is hardly any reason to root for Noyanika, especially since her career and life moves forward at ease. She is shown to be in command of situation right from the go which feels a bit abrupt because we are told she has not been active professionally for 10 years and the home front was dominated by her husband and her mother-in-law.

In one scene, one of her bosses explains her politely to adopt a professional approach while dealing with superiors and the very next moment she storms to another senior’s room and throws a tantrum. In another scene one of her colleague opens up about his mother’s struggle with pregnancy while discussing a similar case and Noyanika cuts him short. While her reason to leave the company is extremely justifiable, the way she interrupts the discussion is unjustified. There are numerous such irrational scenes.

The ensemble cast is impressive. Jisshu Sengupta is a competent actor. But he is getting pigeonholed as a selfish and misogynist man. Sheeba Chaddha is as effortless as always. She has a solid presence and she owns each frame she appears in. Hope she gets to play more such roles. Alyy Khan displays his old charisma.

It was good to see Kiran Kumar back on screen. He does not disappoint. Kubbra Sait is her usual self. Gaurav Pandey has a slightly more layered role than others and he is thoroughly entertaining. But the real surprise was Beena Banerjee, the quintessential righteous lady of the Hindi screen, surfacing as a manipulative mother-in-law with the sweetest tongue.

Kajol is the epicenter and conscience of this legal drama. The character is a mature woman with a spark and in an ideal situation, Kajol should have been THE actor to play the role. But somehow, she misses most of the nuanced notes and turns out to be the weakest of the cast.

Oddly, most of her couture is extremely unimpressive. She has a very common body type (think Kate Winslet). With so much of resources available I cannot fathom how difficult it could have been to dress her. Hope there is some improvement in the next season.

If you don’t have any plans for the weekend, then watch The Trial. It is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.

(The author is an internationally published writer & corporate communication specialist. Views are personal