• Original Air Date: 22/04/2022
  • Platform: Amazon Prime Videos
  • Cast: Shriya Pilgaonkar, Varun Mitra, Namrata Sheth, Sugandha Garg, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Satish Kaushik
  • Director: Shefali Bhushan, Jayant Digambar Somalkar

Guilty Minds is one of the more well-made and intriguing courtroom drama series that I have seen on Indian OTT space off late. It has to be categorized as a Courtroom Drama series because every episode of the series is about a certain case that either ends with a full-fledged trial or with less talked about courtroom proceedings like mediation and out-of-court settlements. The makers make a conscious effort to touch every aspect of the legal processes related to the justice system and try to deliver a series that is rooted in realism and portrays everything about Indian court cases except the humongous amount of time it takes to settle some of these cases. The series also ignores the insane number of petitions that a party can lodge from one hierarchy of court to another thereby further prolonging the delivery of justice.

Kashaf Quaze (Shriya Pilgaonkar) and Deepak Rana (Varun Mitra) are college friends who are practicing advocates albeit with very different approaches to justice and how it is served. Kashaf, the daughter of an honorable judge of the Supreme Court is hell-bent on taking up cases where her clients are marginalized, trampled, and incapacitated by oppressive people, society, and sometimes by their socio-economic status and legal system. She serves people who require justice and neither have the financial nor social clout to defend themselves.

Deepak, on the other hand, is a self-made man who has had to work very hard for being in the privileged position that he was. He works for Khanna and Khanna associates, one of the leading law firms in the city, and believes that his only task is to defend his clients to the best of his abilities. He is neither emotionally invested in his clients nor chooses to judge them. Things become interesting when one of Deepak’s clients starts threatening Kashaf’s father for delivering a judgment in their favor.

While the above-mentioned case forms the basic premise of the series, there is a new case in every episode that not only fleshes out the primary characters and portrays how legal cases pan out but also makes the audiences aware of the various aspects of the legal system and how difficult it is to separate justice from injustice and right from wrong. In addition, the series also gives its viewers a personal and in-depth look into the personal lives of its primary characters. This includes their moral dilemmas and problems arising out of their sexual preferences, romantic choices, rivalries, and most importantly, their respective moral and emotional compasses. If that was not enough, there are atleast two characters that have the power to threaten the physical safety of the primary characters and I am confident that the makers will definitely explore this aspect of the series in the coming seasons.

The cases that we get to see in the different episodes of the series are intriguing. The issues that these cases deal with range from sexual abuse, gender bias, man-machine conflict, environmental abuse to even dating app frauds. Each of the cases is relevant to the present times and presented with such flair and panache that they hold on to your attention. I appreciated the creative choices of the makers as they were brave enough to show the good guys lose on more than one occasion. The makers never forget that the court cases have to be pleaded with evidence and proof of guilt. No matter how much one might want a specific party to win, in the absence of solid evidence, the party will not win. This aspect of the series not only adds a lot of credibility to the proceedings but also introduces a feeling of thrill and an element of surprise in the narrative. This ensures that the viewer is intrigued and has to wait till the end of the cases to know if the party he was supporting ultimately triumphs.

Each of these cases adds some element to the two protagonists and thereby goes on enriching their characters. This also happens with the supporting characters adding a lot of value to them. As the characters are defined more and more with every corresponding episode, their stakes and inclinations are also made clearer which helps to define the basic premise of the series and also adds some much-needed drama and thrill to it. It will not be wrong to say that the basic premise and the other cases run parallel to each other and at certain junctures cross paths. My only complaint with the series comes from the fact that it ends rather abruptly and without giving the much-needed payoff that the audiences deserved for having waited for 10 episodes to see how the basic premise will culminate. While each of the other cases was investing and often thrilling, the same cannot be said about the one perpetually running case involving the two protagonists and it fizzles out rather abruptly in the end.

Shriya Pilgaonkar as Kashaf is efficient. There are aspects to her character that are extremely irritating but these days I have come to expect this from shows that often misjudge and misinterpret women’s empowerment with women being unbearable “stickups” and inconsolable “cry babies”. Kashaf is one such anomaly who hates everyone and everything. She has this weird God-complex that she cannot explain as she is not shown doing anything in the series that would entitle her to that. Her treatment of her father was the worst and really made me hate the character. The reasons for her doing that were questionable. I couldn’t identify with her reactions to something that she could have easily discussed and reasoned with her father. The fact that I am talking about the character as if she was a real person proves how well she was essayed by Shriya Pilgaonkar and for that she must be applauded.  

Varun Mitra as Deepak is confused about everything else except the cases that he is shown fighting out in the court. While that is one of the defining aspects of his character, it is also something that makes his act endearing. Deepak is apparently in love with Kashaf but is constantly sleeping with one of his colleagues at Khanna and Khanna. His philandering quickly escalates into a problem for him when the girl involved develops true feelings for him and Kashaf too starts behaving in a manner that makes their future together look increasingly possible. This portion of the story is left hanging in a balance by the end of the series and this was another aspect of it that I felt could have been dealt with better.

Sugandha Garg plays a character that is Kashaf’s friend and partner at the firm but also has her own story arch that not only makes sense in the larger scheme of things but also has an emotional impact on the drama. I thoroughly enjoyed her act and felt that she did a far better job with the character than what either of the protagonists did with their respective characters.

I enjoyed this series that much more because I love courtroom dramas. For all those who don’t enjoy the genre, this series might not be as enjoyable as it was for someone like me. If you are about to binge this series, that is something that you must keep in your mind. For the lovers of the genre, Guilty Minds will prove to be an ably directed, technically proficient, and well-acted series. It has enough intrigue, drama, and thrills to keep the audiences interested and immersed for the duration of its 10-episodes runtime.

Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

Also read: Deepika Padukone to be part of Cannes Film Festival jury



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