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The Trial review: Kajol's overwhelming performance drowns out nuance and makes for a noisy defense

Kajol's overbearing performance and execution of the screenplay detract from what should have been a promising start for her in an OTT series.

The Trial review: Kajol's overwhelming performance drowns out nuance and makes for a noisy defense
The Trial review

Last Updated: 10.02 AM, Jul 14, 2023


Kajol's character, Noyonika Sengupta, returns to work as a lawyer almost a decade after taking time off to raise her children after her husband's sex scandal and jail. She has to deal with her personal problems while juggling the demands of parenthood, a complicated marriage, and a demanding career as a lawyer in a competitive field.


It's a kind of litmus test for actors who have forayed into the world of OTT after slaying it back in the 90s. And if it's a remake, well, the pressure is fully on. The Good Wife, the TV show that aired from 2009 to 2016, was considered the last of the best television series. Remaking it for the Indian audience means there are many things you have to give away, as the series is a courtroom drama. The Indian law and the law in the US are poles apart to start with.

However, The Trial has kept many things quite similar to The Good Wife, which makes for a pro and a con. Both Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) and Noyonika Sengupta (Kajol) have been involved in pro bono (work undertaken voluntarily and without payment) cases since the time they joined the law firm. However, in The Trial, Noyonika gets the job immediately after a call she makes to her ex-flame, Vishal (Alyy Khan). There's no time between her husband, Rajiv Sengupta (Jissu Sengupta), getting arrested and her also getting a job as a junior associate.


People who haven't seen the original might be quite confused by the rapid progress of the show. Yes, The Good Wife has trials in every episode, while Alicia also deals with her husband's arrest after he gets involved in a sex scandal.

Here Jissu is shown as an additional judge who gets involved in this scandal, and there are many people involved. Instead of a rival, there's a goon who harasses the family and also a friend who is shown as a selfless man throughout the season.

However, Suparn Varma has cooked up many things related to reality for the progression of the story. There is an ongoing story about a cricketer who allegedly committed suicide, and a news channel has defamed his live-in girlfriend. We know the track is quite similar to the Sushant Singh Rajput death case, and don't worry, it's not as original as it sounds; two episodes from the original series are adjoined here.

In The Good Wife, the "escort" writes a book and visits several talk shows to talk about the sex scandal, while in The Trial, she participates in a reality show like Bigg Boss, which is the instant click to fame here nowadays.

Although The Trial starts somewhat with quite a bit of excitement, courtroom drama with female lawyers in the lead is a rarity on celluloid. To be honest, it's one of my favourite genres too. However, halfway through, there's a bizarre turn, and cases that are quite weird spring forth.

However, the biggest drawback is that the characters are not so well-drawn, so to speak, that you feel like investing in them. Kajol, who headlines the series, excels throughout; however, her performances do get flawed at a certain point in time. The melodrama involving her husband and family getting publicly scrutinised causes her to have a meltdown at regular intervals. But it gets slightly tougher to see her go past how loud she becomes. The actor gets over-the-top during the scenes, which expects her to mellow down somewhat. However, maybe getting loud, which is the tone of the series, is her way of performing it. For Kajol, I hope subtlety is not a tough nut to crack.

At a point in time, I also said it like the British girl from Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham: "Why is she shouting?"

On top of that, there's a voiceover towards the end of every episode, reminding us of how Sarah Jessica Parker ends her episode's story with "And Just Like That..." in Sex and the City as well as the ongoing series of the same name. Well, I have not mentioned it to praise it, but the tonality of the series falls there, and the voiceover adds no value for it to get better.

Moreover, it's interesting to see that OnePlus has become the go-to phone for each and every character in the series, unlike the popular iPhone. Are we getting too real here? Well, not with the bizarre world that's put in!

I couldn't get my head cleared over the fact that two incredible female characters are wasted explicitly despite having so much to offer in the series. To start with, Sheeba Chadha, who has become a go-to actor for filmmakers to cast in a supporting role, gets long forgotten while the show is taken ahead. She is shown as a realistic lawyer who doesn't leave her cabin but talks about how nepotism is totally wrong. But where does she vanish? Why is there no importance given to her, contrary to Alyy Khan, who is there like every five minutes of the show? Sheeba then comes around during the last couple of episodes, only to not make any impact other than keeping that straight face. Well, come on, she is beyond all this and the best too.

What starts as an interesting character as a lawyer who's also helping Noyonika turns into an unrequited lover that's too tough to be taken seriously. The character of Vishal, played by Alyy Khan, is actually among the better performers of the lot but has the worst character arc. It's borderline cringeworthy to watch his character just become part of some love triangle.

Talking about Kubbra Sait, she is no Archie Panjabi or Kalinda, but Sana Shaikh, who doesn't shy away from talking about "poverty" even when someone quizzes her about her dating life. She is seen as a very serious person, but that doesn't work in her favour at all. She is great at her job as an investigator, but her financial condition is something that becomes more talked about as she talks about it. It's a sad reality, but throughout eight episodes, we see her cracking cases much quicker than cops, but there's no applause about it.

Gaurav Pandey, as Dhiraj, is a competitor of Noyonika, who has come from a small town to make it big as a lawyer. However, as both are on probation, only one can become permanent after six months of their trial period. Thus, he leaves no stone unturned in trying to make everyone his favourite "bitch" about Noyonika; aah, so typical! Was there a better way to handle the character? I believe so!

Abbas Dalal, Hussain Dalal, and Siddharth Kumar wrote The Trial. Well, the screenplay is deeply flawed and falters in no time. We have seen better in terms of courtroom dramas, including Guilty Minds on Prime Video, which also shows court cases episodically. But there were some nuances to it. However, The Trial got an amazing template even with the court cases, but course correction could have been better executed than looking like a faulty piece, just like its green-screened production value.


Her loud performance and even louder execution of the screenplay detract from what could have been a great start for Kajol in an OTT series with The Trial.


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