Patna Shuklla Review | An Excessively Melodramatic Legal Drama That Lacks Compelling Arguments

There is a terrific revelation happening in the last quarter of the new Hotstar film Patna Shuklla, starring Raveena Tandon. This twist was so good that I felt extremely disappointed that everything else in this legal drama was just loud melodrama rather than a logical legal struggle. If you can manipulate your own mind to focus only on the emotions in a courtroom drama, there is a possibility that you will find this film as a passable venture.

Tanvi Shukla is a small-time advocate who mainly deals with petty cases. She is married to Siddharth, who works as an engineer in the water authority, and the couple have a son. One day, a girl named Rinki Kumari approaches Tanvi, asking whether Tanvi would help her fight a legal battle against her university as she assumes that some sort of tampering has happened with her final year B.Com marklist. What all happened in Tanvi’s life after she decided to take up this case is what we see in Patna Shuklla.

I am not claiming that I am an expert in law. But the evolution of legal dramas in Indian cinema in the last few years has been so good that filmy dialogue-rich courtroom has practically vanished from most films. And surprise last-minute entry of witnesses also has stopped happening. The problem with Patna Shuklla is that even though it has the look and feel of a Jolly LLB, the legal intricacies in the writing are not at all great. In the first trial, when Tanvi starts arguing with the statement that her client thinks she has written better than what her mark sheet shows, you just feel like laughing at the lack of preparation of Tanvi. It’s not just Tanvi, looking at some of the arguments of the defense counsel, the writing of the legal aspect of the film feels very underprepared.

Vivek Budakoti’s attempt is to make legal drama, but his writers are exploring the legal element in the most superficial way possible. The way Tanvi makes her arguments, the way the defense demolishes them so easily, and finally some theatrics in the closing statement creating a 180-degree shift in the verdict, etc., feels very silly. I really loved how the makers included a personal connection between the case and Tanvi. I am guessing that would have been the germ of the idea that resulted in this drama. But even after getting that element, the lack of thrills in the setting is forcing the filmmakers to go after sentimental tropes to make the viewer root for the leading lady.

Raveena Tandon, whose career was at its peak during the ’90s, knows how to deliver the dramatic lines without making it ultra cheesy. Despite the writing limiting her with uninspiring dialogues, she was able to keep the drama afloat. Manav Vij, as the supportive husband, looked convincing on screen. Late Satish Kaushik, as the judge with extreme OCD, felt like a lighter version of the character Saurabh Shukla played in the Jolly LLB franchise. Anushka Kaushik was memorable as Rinki Kumari. The ease with which Chandan Roy Sanyal pulls off the character of the defense lawyer is exciting to watch, but sadly, the writing was so slim in providing him with something that could complement that grace.

Almost from the very first scene in the movie, Vivek Budakoti is pretty much announcing that this is going to be that “women empowerment” film. But I found myself waiting for the movie to become that proper legal drama. The melodramatic pleading of the leading lady was so excessive that if the defense lawyer said, “Enough with emotional manipulation, can we finally have some realistic arguments?” I would have clapped for him.

Final Thoughts

If you can manipulate your own mind to focus only on the emotions in a courtroom drama, there is a possibility that you will find this film as a passable venture.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.