Shriya Pilgaonkar is mesmerising in Guilty Minds, In a series that thrives on an ensemble cast

Guilty Minds, a ten-part web series that dramatises as many court cases as possible while straddling a fascinatingly wide variety of modern subjects, is full of interlocking plots and subplots involving lawyers and their clients. Each trial featured in the series delves into moral and legal issues with a strong yet mellow sense of drama.

A Bollywood actress has accused a well-known filmmaker of rape. A 19-year-old Delhi college student is driven to do a horrible act by his addiction to video games. Locals in Maharashtra fight a cola bottling facility in a water-scarce community.

Guilty Minds explores further afield in quest of reality-inspired fiction, from the heavy to the knotty. Three young men file a lawsuit against a dating service for making false promises. A rebel with a cause, the creator of a reproductive clinic, battles her dismissal from her own organisation on the grounds of “misconduct and behavioural disorders.”

Under the guise of genetic testing, another IVF clinic performs illegal sex determination tests. In Mumbai, a senior music composer (Shakti Kapoor) sues an app developer for using algorithms to steal their work. The case of a driverless automobile that causes a tragic accident on the Delhi-Gurgaon highway is heard in court.

Guilty Minds also includes a case of a private security agency employee who knows too much about his company’s malpractices in the Chambal region on a more serious, nearly political note. Despite the fact that this portion of the series is entirely fictional, with no mention of government organisations in the plot, its resonances are frighteningly real, conjuring up images of state-sponsored massacres and phoney encounters in conflict zones Guilty Minds.

The subjects may appear dry and dismal on the surface, but Shefali Bhushan’s courtroom drama series, developed and directed by her, is anything but. Guilty Minds, which is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video, centres on two families, one of three generations of successful lawyers and the other of a reputable and honourable judge, all of whom are surrounded by a cast of lawbreakers and defenders.

Each episode of the show is devoted to a single trial, which is completed in around 50 minutes, while the equally important stories outside the courtroom unfold and address a different set of concerns centred on shifting choices, shaky certitudes, and tangled loyalties.

On one hand, there’s Kashaf Quaze (Shriya Pilgaonkar), a young idealistic lawyer who, with her assistant Vandana Kathpalia (Sugandha Garg), intuitively gravitates towards cases that allow her to fully express her activist side. Deepak Rana (Varun Mitra), an ambitious and hard-charging lawyer, on the other hand, is prone to making hasty decisions.

Deepak is a partner in the law firm of L.N. Khanna (Kulbhushan Kharbanda), his two sons, and Shubhrat Khanna (Pranay Pachauri). Deepak is the lone outsider at Khanna Khanna & Associates, but because to the patriarch’s trust in him, he is a vital component of the legal firm and wields considerable power.

Because the Indian legal system isn’t known for issuing decisions swiftly, the courtroom processes in Guilty Minds could be considered hasty – each case, as previously said, is condensed into a single episode and immediately dismissed to make way for the next. However, the show’s framework is sound, and the drama of people wrestling with moral issues of personal and social significance is continuously compelling.

Guilty Minds, written by Shefali Bhushan, Jayant Digambar Samalkar (who is also the show’s co-director), Manav Bhushan, and Deeksha Gujral, benefits from meticulous research and in-depth knowledge of legalese, as well as an unfailing eye for verisimilitude, even when the whipping up of some drama is of fictional buttressing.

Without letting the effort show, Bhushan and her team establish a balance between entertainment and information, as well as the study of ethics and the delivery of thrill. Aside from the legal obstacles they encounter, each of the central characters has demons to fight.

Kashaf’s father is Justice Munawwar Quaze (Benjamin Gilani), whose sterling reputation is tarnished by a slander campaign purportedly sponsored by those who want him dead and buried. The identities of the conspirators is not revealed until the very conclusion of the arc. Nobody in Guilty Minds is above board, which heightens the amount of intrigue that comes with the revelation of hidden realities and intentions.

Kashaf Quaze has frequent run-ins with her former college roommate and professional rival Deepak Rana, a man who has no qualms about breaking the laws if it helps him achieve his goals. Their antagonism, however, is more than meets the eye.

Shubhangi Khanna (Namrata Sheth), Shubhrat’s younger sister, returns with a law degree from Harvard University to take her rightful place in the family firm, the two lawyers have a love-hate relationship that is exacerbated when Shubhangi Khanna (Namrata Sheth), Shubhrat’s younger sister, returns with a law degree from Harvard University to take her rightful place in the family firm.

Apart from Deepak’s no-strings-attached and constantly evolving equations with the two women – Guilty Minds handles these and other relationships, which are played off against each other as the story unfolds, with remarkable maturity – Guilty Minds is dominated by a murder committed a decade and a half ago in Deepak’s idyllic Himachal Pradesh village.

Justice Quaze, the Khannas, and Tejinder Bhalla, a politically connected liquor magnate, are all involved in the long-delayed homicide case (Satish Kaushik). They all have something to conceal. Given their personal links with the key participants, Deepak and Kashaf have a stake in the stalled trial as well.

The programme jumps from case to case, with each court struggle providing its own tone and tempo to the writing, all while the Khannas and Quazes’ underlying internecine disputes propel the drama ahead at a steady, exhilarating pace. The severity of a virtual reality-induced murder, as well as the life-and-death aspect of a drought-stricken village’s war against a cola behemoth, are all given the grave treatment they deserve.

Guilty Minds, on the other hand, allows for flashes of subtle humour to enter the arguments and counter-arguments in the staging of the dating app and music copyright court disputes.

Kashaf has a past that haunts her, Vandana has a present that begs questions, and Deepak must deal with an incident buried in the mists of time. The crucial elements in determining where these lawyers will wind up are their relationships, some of which have gone sour and others which are worth fighting for.

Guilty Minds is a multidimensional series full of lingering paradoxes, stunning revelations, and opposing acts of defence and offence, all of which are bolstered by a group of consistent performances that allow all of the opacities to bloom.

This isn’t a programme about one particular actor. It thrives on an ensemble cast, which comprises numerous performers who appear in only a few episodes or on a sporadic basis yet have a significant impact. Shriya Pilgaonkar is the one performer who deserves to be mentioned above all others. As the frank-to-a-fault advocate, she is hypnotic.

Varun Mitra, Sugandha Garg, and Namrata Sheth aren’t far behind, but Pilgaonkar is the one who best captures the character of the collision of scruples and necessities that lies at the heart of this story of numerous legal and emotional squabbles. Guilty Minds is certainly primed for follow-ups worth waiting for, with Season 1 paying off handsomely.

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