Patna Shuklla movie review: Raveena Tandon’s courtroom drama makes for an engaging watch sans any frivolous twists | Bollywood

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Patna Shuklla movie review: Patna Shuklla is no Jolly LLB, where you break into fits of laughter every now and then upon hearing the arguments presented by the lawyers, and the judge with hilarious one-liners being the funny guy. Yet, this Raveena Tandon-starrer succeeds in putting forth a strong case and makes for a compelling watch. The story isn’t devoid of flaws, and starts to meander after a point; but it’s the earnest and powerful performance by Raveena, and an endearing act by late Satish Kaushik, that elevate the narrative and keep you engaged. Also read: OTT releases to watch this weekend

Patna Shuklla movie review: Raveena Tandon is seen as a lawyer named Tanvi Shukla in the film.

Plot and cast of Patna Shuklla

The premise surrounds Tanvi Shukla (Raveena), a lawyer in Patna’s lower court, who is living her childhood dream of becoming a lawyer. Back home, she is a loving wife to her husband Siddharth (Manav Vij) – who works in the water board as a senior engineer – and a doting mother to their school-going son, Sonu. She refers to herself as ‘papa ki laadli (Father’s favourite)’, but isn’t really dependent on her father (Raju Kher) for daily chores. 

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Tanvi’s happy family life turns upside down, when one day she decides to fight the case of Rinki Kumari (Anushka Kaushik), and sets out to expose a big scam in the education system involving youth icon Raghubir Singh (Jatin Goswami). 

In her quest to get Rinki the justice she deserves, Tanvi ends up rubbing feathers with influential, privileged and connected people, and ends up encountering a dark secret about her own past. As the case gains steam and makes headlines on news channels, Tanvi gets the title Patna Shuklla, with one section lauding her courage, while other trying hard to pull her down.

What works

As a courtroom drama, Vivek Budakoti’s directorial, Patna Shuklla, has its high and low points, and off track moments, but the consistent pace of its screenplay keeps it going. Somewhat different from the recent courtroom dramas that try to go overboard with the humour quotient in the court scenes, this one opts for a more restrained approach – and a fairly serious undertone – yet you can notice subtle attempts at making things lighter, not frivolous, though.

What I really liked is that the film neither gets preachy, nor does it go overboard while trying to make a point. As a matter of fact, Tanvi is shown to be someone who gives her best to every single case she takes up, irrespective of how important or trivial it might turn out to be. So, we see her being equally determined when fighting a case for Gupta ji after his tailor used one metre of cloth instead of 1.5 metres to stitch the boxers, and gets him justice in form of damage claim. And for Rinki’s case, she refuses to bow down in front of the corrupt and takes it as a personal battle.

Scenes that stand out

Patna Shuklla isn’t just your typical courtroom drama, but also touches upon the issue of gender disparity that has long plagued our society. There are multiple sexist remarks you hear that provoke you at first, and soon you realise how women in our country have gotten used to be called out if they try to stand out. 

For instance, in front of his friends and their wives, Siddharth doesn’t take pride in his wife being a lawyer, instead passes a sly remark saying she excels at making affidavits and take up ‘chote mote (small)’ local cases. Or in another scene, when Tanvi feeds sugar-free laddoos to the judge, he, instead of complimenting her, comments, “Aapka hunar bhindi, sabzi aur daal mein hai, daleel mein nahi (Your talent lies in cooking, not making arguments).” Tanvi might just smile through these mentions, though deep inside, you can feel her fighting the pain and pressure that comes along.

Patna Shuklla: Raveena Tandon plays an underdog in the legal drama.
Patna Shuklla: Raveena Tandon plays an underdog in the legal drama.

What does not work

Having said that, what could have definitely been better are the dialogues that needed much more power and gravity to make an impact. At two hours 13 minutes, the film appears a tad stretched in the second half and could have gone for a crisper editing, especially in the scenes outside the court. 

But I guess the makers redeem it quick by offering quite an interesting twist that you don’t see coming. The climax, however, is pretty predictable and doesn’t really overwhelm you with emotions or any surprise factor.

Satish Kaushik is the highlight of the film

Despite the good and the bad, the performances leave you with very little to complain. After portraying an ultra-glam 90s heroine in Karmma Calling, Raveena wins you over with a rather demure and understated performance. Trust her to look ravishing even in a de-glam avatar, and still make an equal impact. As a lawyer and a homemaker, the way she strikes a work-life balance, is quite relatable. 

Her portions with the prosecution lawyer Neelkanth Mishra (Chandan Roy Sanyal) are intense, and quite convincing, though Chandan’s performance is quite passable. As judge Arun K Jha, Satish Kaushik is the highlight of the film, and has some great punchlines that can’t go unnoticed. His scenes highlighting his OCD are fun and make you smile, and this will be remembered among his lovable final performances.

Final thoughts

In a day and age where courtroom dramas have caught the audience’s eye, and been much appreciated both on the big screen and streaming platforms, Patna Shuklla is definitely a good addition to the list, and makes for a decent watch. The film is now streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.

Film: Patna Shuklla

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

Director: Vivek Budakoti

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