Web Series: The Trial – Pyaar, Kaanoon, Dhokha
Cast: Kajol, Sheeba Chaddha, Jisshu Sengupta, Alyy Khan, Kubbra Sait, Gaurav Pandey
Director: Suparn S Varma
OTT: Disney+ Hotstar
Rating: 3.5 Moons
Producer (s): Ajay Devgn FFilms, Banijay Asia and Parag Desai
Courtroom dramas are mostly engaging, nail-biting and full of surprises. Kajol steps into the zone of web series with Suparn S Varma's 8-episode show titled The Trial – Pyaar, Kaanoon, Dhokha which is a family drama and courtroom thriller. It revolves around Noyonika Sengupta (Kajol) who restarts her law career after her husband Rajiv Sengupta (Jisshu Sengupta), an Additional Judge, is arrested in a sex and corruption scandal. She has to bear the brunt of being a disgraced man's wife and has to take on the roles of mother and breadwinner for her daughters Ananya and Anayra.
The 8-episode series is more than just a courtroom drama. There are underlying conversations around corruption, politics, media trials, fake news and several others. On the surface, it explores Noyonika's struggle to strike the right balance between personal commitments and professional space. The Trial begins with Rajiv's arrest and how the Senguptas have to pave their way through a cruel society and insensitive people. While Rajiv is battling his own war, Noyonika is fighting demons at the workplace including office politics.
There's a strong and uncanny resemblance with Sushant Singh Rajput's alleged suicide case and forms a major portion of the series. Director Sushant and writers Abaas Dalal, Hussain Dalal and Siddharth Kumar have incorporated the reference pretty evidently and tweaked it seamlessly to fit into the space of The Trial. From having a reporter blatantly accusing a deceased cricketer's girlfriend of abetment to suicide to running a negative campaign against her, it is clearly influenced by the SSR case.
One of the parallel tracks that stand out is Noyonika's relationship with her law college friend Vishal Chaubey (Alyy Khan). He helps her get a job at a law firm co-founded by him, Malini Khanna (Sheeba Chadha) and Kishore Ahuja (Kiran Kumar). At one point, Noyonika and Vishal shared a different relationship but after suffering a heartbreak, he maintains only the bond of friendship with her. Their past allows people in the law firm to gossip about how privileged she is until the 'good wife' proves to be a fantastic lawyer. Towards the end of the first season, Noyonika's colleague, who joined the firm along with her in the same position, talks about 'nepotism' and the competitiveness is highlighted.
The Trial explores the relationship between a mother and her two young daughters who have matured before time due to the circumstances they've been through. While there's protectiveness, these sequences depict the bond in a realistic and subtle way. Noyonika can confide in her elder daughter Ananya. Despite the odds, the girls stand with their father throughout and put in their best effort to prove him innocent. Speaking of interpersonal relationships, there's coldness between Rajiv and Noyonika and it is evident. Having lost faith in love and the sanctity of marriage, she maintains a distance from men whom she was once close to.
The series refuses to delve deeper into the backstories of its characters. The staging of the drama is perfect but it is hard to sympathise with the members who are an important part of the storytelling process. Despite being close to 8 hours long, there's hardly anything you know about Noyonika's past with Vishal and her marriage with Rajiv. Characters like Sana (Kubbra Sait) are interesting but with no background depth, the impact is dampened.
Suparn, who was associated with the recently released critically acclaimed Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai, knows how to tell stories of interpersonal relationships. He gets subplots like 'Pyaar, Kaanoon, Dhokha' right but the intensity that's required in a courtroom scene is somewhat less effective. The tension doesn't build to its full potential. Suparn leaves many questions unanswered for the new chapter.
Kajol makes her web series debut with a show that requires a certain degree of calmness. Having been known for her vibrant personality and cheerfulness, it is refreshing to watch her in a role that stands exactly opposite to her personal self. She nails Noyonika's vulnerabilities like an expert. The actress is feisty, strong-headed and unapologetic about her priorities and ambitions. Yes, it does sound hilarious when she shouts but overall, Kajol puts up a good performance.
Jisshu Sengupta is wonderful as Rajiv, the disgraced Additional Judge. He brings a sense of calm to the screen with his presence. Sheeba Chadha is pitch-perfect as Malini Khanna who is yet another impactful and strong woman in the show. Her character has a good graph. Alyy Khan as Vishal Chaubey shines. Kubbra Sait is good as always. It is delightful to watch her as Sana. Gaurav Pandey is likeable too. Aseem Hattangadi as the reliable Iliyas represents every trustworthy and supportive friend. He's good too.
The Trial is definitely worth your attention and time. There are multiple subplots running underneath and that's what makes the show denser, deeper and more enjoyable. The dialogues are dramatic at times but there's no compromise on sarcastic digs at the media; they're harmless as they represent reality.
PeepingMoon gives The Trial 3.5 Moons