'Criminal Justice' on Hotstar: Vikrant Massey and Pankaj Tripathi dazzle you in this thriller

This series is an adaptation of a show aired earlier on the BBC. But its desi version captures details and moods well while its actors are fantastic. Pankaj Tripathi in particular is outstanding.

 |  3-minute read |   13-04-2019
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Life is fickle, its events unpredictable. When we break into carefree laughter, little do we know if the very next moment could force us into inconsolable sobs. When we plan the next meeting, the next party, little do we know all our planning could be gone for a toss with one stroke of bad luck — and we will be forced to find that strength to fight what we face within.

The same strength which we never knew we had till we need it.

vikrant-690_041219055704.jpgAditya's (Vikrant Masey) life is thrown out of gear in just one night. (Photo: A still from Criminal Justice)

Call it the beauty of live — or life playing a beast on you, when life throws shit at you, you just find no way to duck it. Hotstar’s latest Criminal Justice tells us why planning lives whose very nature is unpredictable begets only disappointments if you are lucky — if you are unlucky, it leaves you shocked.

So, when a young Aditya (Vikrant Masey) excitedly buys a packet of condoms, hoping for a fun-filled night with the woman he has the hots for, he has no clue life is set to screw him hard.

Aditya, who drives a taxi for a cab aggregator First Cabs, is wrapping up a shift when he meets a woman, half-hassled, half doped. Aditya soon finds himself in bed with her and then he forgets life as it was, where he wanted to help his family meet ends, even as he pursued an MBA and played football.

He finds himself in the debauched life of a prison, on charges of rape and murder, with every shred of evidence — circumstantial and forensic — screaming his name out loud as a killer.

If one wants to know why prisons in India have failed to be reform centres, one must watch Criminal Justice. Aditya finds that strength which he did not know he had to live through prison life. Vikrant Masey gets into the very essence of Aditya’s character. His expressions mirror the transformation from innocence to human ruthlessness acquired as a survival instinct in a Darwinian world where only the fittest shall survive.

massey-690_041219055825.jpgPrison shows Aditya in a living hell. (Photo: A still from Criminal Justice)

But this show is not all about darkness.

Just like life, it merges darkness with the light of human kindness. Aditya meets Madhav Mishra (Pankaj Tripathi) who is a rainbow, just like most humans are, with colours of not just kindness and humanism — but also monetary greed.

Mishra is an advocate who makes a living by helping petty criminals with legal support.

crimin-690_041219055734.jpgPankaj Tripathi presents a whole range of human emotions as advocate Madhav Mishra. (Photo: A still from Criminal Justice)

Much like Meryl Streep, every twitch on Tripathi’s face is an expression that captures a whole range of human emotions. He is trying to make some money even as he tries to help Aditya. But he also develops a soft corner for him, believing that Aditya is innocent and his middle-class family deserves better.

Aditya’s family is not just struggling to cough up the funds to meet his legal expenses, but also grappling with a bigger question — could their son have indeed raped and killed a woman?    

The worn-out walls of the family’s house sketch the details of a lower middle-class life in India that is just one tragedy away from being pushed into poverty.

The depiction of jail life does get stretched in places as directors Tigmanshu Dhulia and Vishal Furia try to bring out several details. They could definitely have clipped a few details though. Thrillers work better when the plot is racy.

This is an adaptation of a show which was aired on BBC in 2008, with the same name, written by Peter Moffat.

In this version, Dhulia and Furia do well overall at capturing the core of this thriller with a talented bunch of actors that includes Jackie Shroff, Mita Vashisht, Pankaj Saraswat, Anupriya Goenka and Rucha Inamdar.

Also read: Why Netflix’s 'Period. End of Sentence' is a grim reminder to our society


Vandana Vandana @vandana5

Author is assistant editor DailyO.

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