Illegal review: Neha Sharma, Kubbra Sait deliver their best performances in new-age legal drama

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByRuchi Kaushal
May 13, 2020 11:18 AM IST

Illegal review: Piyush Mishra’s performance may have powered this legal drama but Neha Sharma and Kubbra Sait hold their own in the show.

Illegal review
Neha Sharma, Akshay Oberoi, Piyush Mishra, Kubbra Sait, Satyadeep Mishra
Sahir Raza

Illegal review: Neha Sharma in a still from the web show.
Illegal review: Neha Sharma in a still from the web show.

If you have only known Indian courts through the camera’s lens, then you are familiar with the blindfolded Lady Justice with scales in her hand and the tried-and-tested ‘Gita pe haath rakh kar shapath le’. The real Indian courts -- especially the dusty and overcrowded lower courts -- are a far cry from this sanitised version. That is where Voot’s new outing Illegal comes in.

Instead of the polished walnut judge’s bench, we have the popular Swiggy uncle (Naresh Gosain) occupying a bench piled high with files and carrying out the court proceedings with the firmness of the principal of a small-town primary school. The mention is not to give an indication of the humour quotient but a visible effort on the part of the filmmaker to show a rarely seen side of the district courts.

 Watch Illegal trailer here

As the title suggests, the legal drama revolves around the nitty-gritty of the judicial system in India and how lawyers twist the written word to their advantage. Illegal is as addictive as a video game as the sharp minds in black robes flip ethics and reinterpret the truth.

The show is a far cry from the superhit Suits, Ronit Roy’s Adaalat and Arshad Warsi and Akshay Kumar’s Jolly LLB series but stands out with its fresh starcast. Piyush Mishra is a successful lawyer who fights his cases outside the court with his manipulative powers and a multi-tasking genie to his disposal. A man who knows information is power hires a strong-headed and fearless lawyer (Neha Sharma) who has been branded a loose cannon for raising her voice against powerful people without worrying about the repercussions. Enters Akshay Oberoi, Piyush’s onscreen son and Neha’s ex boyfriend to add some romance and drama to the mix.

Kubbra Sait in a still from Illegal.
Kubbra Sait in a still from Illegal.

While Piyush is effortlessly brilliant as a twisted lawyer, it’s the women – Neha and Kubbra Sait -- who let their performance do the talking. Neha steps out of her starry image as a no-nonsense lawyer and certainly delivers one of the best performances of her career. Kubbra shines through as Meher Salam – a woman convicted for multiple murders who is on the way to the gallows. She has already proved her worth in Sacred Games and once again leaves you in awe with the maturity she brings in her work.

Though there is no mind-numbing suspense, the continuity and clarity with which a complex screenplay is executed leaves almost no room for losing the viewer. The director needs to take a bow for walking the tightrope of a complicated legal drama that encompasses multiple cases without losing the reins of the plot or the thrill. The show also earns an extra brownie point for touching upon the subject of death row convicts whose fate hangs by a thread after the final sentencing.

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Piyush Mishra plays a mastermind lawyer in Illegal.
Piyush Mishra plays a mastermind lawyer in Illegal.

Also read: Baarish 2 review: Asha Negi, Sharman Joshi’s drama is as torturous as Mumbai’s annual rain chaos

In a world where the chips are stacked in the favour of the rich and the powerful, IIlegal looks promising on multiple grounds. It comes as a welcome change to not see a steamy romance being added to the screenplay just for the sake of it. Despite the opportunity, the maker wisely decides to pass through without diluting the compelling plot. Voot has been carefully trudging the path with its latest offerings in similar genre – murder mysteries Asur and The Raiker Case and Illegal certainly make it a hat-trick of successful shows for the streaming platform.

Author tweets @ruchik87

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