Manipulating the law and the court: ‘Illegal’ touches a raw nerve

Manipulation of the judicial process is the theme that touches a contemporary chord

A still from Illegal
A still from Illegal
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Pragati Saxena

'llegal’ streaming on Voot Select, is a courtroom drama bordering on a ‘thriller’.

Sahir Raza, the director, is an old hand in the world of web series. His sci-fi drama ‘A.I.S.H.A, My Virtual Girlfriend’ was talked about way back in 2016, when in India we had not quite explored sci-fi yet.

Produced by Vikram Bhatt and written by Reshu Nath, ‘Illegal’ draws your attention right from the very first voice over by protagonist Neha Sharma. There are very few young Hindi film actresses who can pronounce words with nukta.

Neha wins your attention with her remarkably clear pronunciation and with that one dialogue which remains with you for long- “the ones who claim to be legal are the ones who are actually illegal”.

The story of deception, deceit, self-interests, opportunism and her struggle through it follows. As a conscientious idealist lawyer (a rare species indeed) Neha Sharma impresses. But the story keeps her character under many strains - idealism, her tortuous memories, relationships and her struggle as a lawyer in a world where people and cases change within seconds as the boss’ interest and ambition shifts. Then comes the political angle too.

Though the series holds your attention right from the beginning, it starts haunting you with so many nuances of manipulating the ‘truth’. A single dialogue holds the key to the entire story—Truth is what you can prove (obviously in the court of law).

Sahir Raza cleverly interweaves the narra- tive with fast cuts, swiftly going back to the past and in various dimensions of a single story, without giving time to the audience to think. In that sense, ‘Illegal’ maintains a fast pace which leaves you almost breathless after every episode.

But the unending darkness and the grimness of reality can be tiresome. Surely, there must be a silver lining even when the reality is so bleak, you are left wondering. The characters seem to be rudderless.

Even the idealist lawyer who wants to fight for truth comes across as impulsive and emotional, not someone who is sure, confident and firm. Kubra Sait impresses with her small but substantial role as a woman on death row. Akshay Oberoi too looks promising and Piyush Mishra, as always, effortlessly fits into another grey role.

The theme – manipulation of the judicial process—is topical and strikes a chord. It leaves you shaken.

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