Uncommon, agreeable, yet dour : The Tribune India

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Uncommon, agreeable, yet dour

Uncommon, agreeable, yet dour

The ravishing Raveena Tandon (with producer Arbaaz Khan) is in fine form.

Film: Disney+Hotstar: Patna Shukla

Director: Vivek Budakoti

Cast: Raveena Tandon, Satish Kaushik, Manav Vij, Chandan Roy Sanyal, Jatin Goswami and Anushka Kaushik

Nonika Singh

She is a loving mother, a caring housewife and a lawyer too. Not that her legal acumen is anything to write home about, so we are told by the judge of the lower court where she practises. And before we go any further, let you be informed that the judge is played by none other than the late Satish Kaushik. It’s a reminder of what a natural he was. With him around, you can certainly expect a dash of humour.

Of course, the film is not about him but Tanvi Shukla (Raveena Tandon). The case she wins despite his disparaging remarks about her skills is a rather bizarre one. Soon enough, though inexplicably, she acquires the sobriquet ‘Patna Shukla’. You guessed it right, the story is set in Patna and once again, no prizes for guessing that this middle class lawyer will be pitted against the mighty and powerful.

Where the film strikes a fresh note is that the case she argues is not of rape or sexual harassment, but regarding the malicious and deliberate swapping of an examination marksheet by the university. A young girl, Rinki Kumari (Anushka Kaushik), daughter of a rickshaw-wallah, approaches Tanvi for justice. Her grouse is rather unusual. She thought she would be scoring at least 60 to 65 per cent marks, but her result reads ‘fail’. Reassessment yields the same result.

Now, the number of students who are unable to clear their exams despite the strong belief that they would easily sail through is not miniscule. Only, this is not a classic case of great expectations. Rather, the rot in the university runs deep. Call it the roll number scam. Hence, the cover-up is equally hydra-headed and vicious.

In walks a pompous opposing counsel, Neelkanth Mishra (Chandan Roy Sanyal), and you think a David versus Goliath story is set. Well, there is many a twist in the tale. A villain (Jatin Goswami) espousing the cause of the girl child, the ‘Beti padhao, Beti bachao’ variant who also believes in the bulldozer brand of justice, is round the corner. Why would he confess his crime to a lawyer is incomprehensible, as is the lawyer naming him point-blank in the court without a shred of evidence.

Though the film is being touted as a courtroom drama, there are not many rousing court scenes that merit mention or demand undivided attention. Raveena as Tanvi does turn around a few losing points to her advantage. Mercifully, the proceedings are not overtly melodramatic. Much of the drama is anyway happening outside the walls of the court.

Though the ‘bad man’ claims he is a modern man and does illegal things through legal means, his template is old school: revenge through foul means. To give the devil his due, Jatin the actor manages to lend some weight and menace to his act. Rest of the male actors are hemmed in by underwritten parts. Manav Vij, a fine actor, who appears a cad initially is actually a supportive husband, only his is a one-note character. Sanyal, too, is reduced to playing to the strengths of our heroine.

Raveena Tandon is once again in fine form. The storyline might stretch the limits of credulity, yet she makes it all seem very convincing, even when Tanvi does the impossible and puts her career at stake. In a well-rounded part, Raveena does not disappoint. But the film does not come up trumps.

Tanvi’s son sums up his mother as both brave and stupid. Can we say the same about the film? Uncommon, agreeable, yet dour fits the description better. This Arbaaz Khan production has a runtime of nearly two hours.