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Patna Shuklla review - Raveena Tandon's courtroom drama is a call for justice lost in dramatic translation

In Patna Shuklla, Raveena Tandon delivers a fiery performance in a courtroom drama that finds itself battling against the constraints of its script.

Patna Shuklla review - Raveena Tandon's courtroom drama is a call for justice lost in dramatic translation
Patna Shuklla review

Last Updated: 02.04 PM, Mar 29, 2024


Patna Shuklla story:

Tanvi Shukla (Raveena Tandon), a 34-year-old lawyer, is a devoted wife and mother. Even in the most insignificant of situations, she is incredibly conscientious and gives it her all. Her husband, Siddharth (Manav Vij), is contemptuous of her profession and is preoccupied with his own issues. One day, Rinki Kumari (Anushka Kaushik), a 20-year-old Patna University student and the daughter of a rickshaw puller from a lower caste, approaches Tanvi. Despite being a good student, she did poorly in her final exam. She believes that she has fallen prey to the widespread "roll number scam." Because she is poor and doesn't have much to give, no lawyer will take her case when she goes to the lower court, and Tanvi is her last option. 

Tanvi decides to pursue her case and submits an RTI against BN College (PU). Tanvi gets a call from an unknown person after the first day's hearing, saying that someone has information on the case. When she goes to see him, it turns out to be none other than Bihar's youthful and vibrant leader, Raghubeer Singh (Jatin Goswami), the son of Danveer Singh, the state's chief minister. Tanvi eventually discovers that Raghubeer switched roll numbers with Rinki. Threats of death and pressure to abandon the case to protect her family are plaguing her. Will she have the strength to resist and overthrow the dishonest system?


Patna Shuklla review:

Movies and OTT platforms have repeatedly explored courtroom dramas. Although cases are different, thus the characterization, sometimes the approach turns out to be the same, and you can't unsee it. I was recently enjoying the subtlety of Netflix's Maamla Legal Hai, where most cases are pro bono and there are lawyers assigned especially for that. Even in the bizarre cases, there was humanity, which kept the depth of the series.

Now comes Patna Shuklla, where Raveena Tandon, as lawyer Tanvi Shukla, takes up any case given to her, and she fights for it like it's her last, even if it's for the measurement of a pair of underpants. This is just to show her dedication to her job while balancing her life as a loving wife and a doting mother. One day, Rinki Kumari, a decent final-year student at Patna University, approaches Tanvi to defend herself, believing she can't fail the exam, only to receive a score of 31% when she was expecting more than 60%.

Tanvi quickly takes up the case, utilises all available research, and confronts the opposing lawyer, Neelkanth Mishra (Chandan Roy Sanyal). Thus begins the battle to prove how her client is a victim of the corrupted education system. The entire courtroom drama will transport you back to the Oh My God and Jolly LLB franchise, where a lawyer standing up for justice faces threats, even from their own families.

Patna Shuklla is a film that will remind you of the movies made in the late 80s or 90s, where small talk would take centre stage. The build-up is shorter, but the approach feels so prolonged that you wait for everyone to get to the point. It takes nearly 20 minutes to establish Tanvi's status as a female lawyer, leading everyone to anticipate her as a more responsible mother and wife. No one becomes proud when she wins a case or takes up a challenge at work. 

As the real-case approaches, we expect the serious business to start; however, sequences have bland edges that leave you wanting for a better treatment of the script, which is interestingly strong. There are moments, such as how Rinki knew her exact marks during the exam. Moreover, there are some 'unexpected' twists, which, to be honest, I saw coming so as to bring closure to the case as well as the film. Interestingly, it turned out to be exactly like that and doesn't make a stronger case for being a meaty film. 

Every time Tanvi discusses her work, Patna Shuklla makes a strong point about gender politics, reminding her that she excels in cooking and household chores. But that never bows her down in any way, as she believes in herself, which makes Raveena the leading actor to watch out for in the film. 

The entire film relies on the actor standing tall and navigating the ambiguous script. She gives her 100% and also plays a better role than what she played in Karmma Calling. But we have seen the Shool level performance of Raveena over the years, and we know her capability. 

Meanwhile, Anushka, who plays Rinki, does the backseat driving. I last remember seeing her in Lust Stories 2 in Amit Sharma's segment alongside Kajol. Although it was a short film, her character having a brief time is understandable. However, in Patna Shuklla, it felt like she was just driving the film from the backseat and not shotgun. Well, you feel that she could be the parallel lead, but she ends up being just a mere catalyst and not utilising her potential to the fullest. Well, justice felt denied here.

Vivek Budakoti, the film's director, chose a convenient route under the guise of a stronger plot, which is definitely not the case. You can't expect a courtroom drama to be breezy, yet this turned out to be one. Even with Jatin Goswami as the main 'antagonist', his character arc turns out to be weak. Despite being a youth icon who advocates for the underprivileged and girls' education, he fails to make it to the final year. Yet the attitude should have been slightly more villainous; well, it felt like calm before the chaos, but I am still waiting for something chaotic apart from the cliches shown. 

Manav Vij does bring the demeanour of a husband who is silent but the backbone that a partner deserves. He would come across as someone who might not be supportive, but it was definitely refreshing to see the actor as a sweetheart, despite facing tough times himself.

Well, if I have to say who stole the show, it's undoubtedly the late actor Satish Kaushik, who is seen as a judge with an OCD of having everything symmetrical and round-figured. There are so many scenes of the actor where he defies stereotypes of being a no-nonsense judge as well as someone who does household chores too. 

Budakoti does try to balance between the actors on their character arcs, but on the script level, well, it could have been elevated higher on many levels and not make us wait for any other filmmaker to take charge to show this important and strong case in a better way on the celluloid. 

Patna Shuklla verdict:

Patna Shuklla is a reminder of the film's potential with a better script and more subtle direction, despite Raveena Tandon's admirable attempt to preserve its honour.


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