Well-known lawyer Bikram Chandra is stabbed in the middle of the night by his wife, Anuradha Chandra. In a dazed state, she stumbles out of the house, leaving behind their horrified 12-year-old daughter Rhea – the only eye witness to the incident. What follows later is not just a legal battle, but also an emotional one.
A not-so-simple murder
The first episode in this eight-part series begins with Bikram Chandra (Jisshu Sengupta) basking in the aftermath of winning a case. He makes plans to spend the evening with his daughter Rhea (Adrija Sinha) and wife Anuradha (Kirti Kulhari), asking the latter to let the maids leave. We’re then introduced to Anuradha Chandra or Anu, a nervous young woman who keeps to herself, shies away from attention and begins to panic when she cannot find something as trivial as her wristwatch. The reason for this is revealed later.
Anu suffers from clinical depression and consults a psychiatrist, Dr. Moksh Singhvi (Ayaz Khan). On the same night, while Anu and Bikram are in bed, she stabs him. From the doorway, Rhea watches in horror as her mother calls emergency services and then walks away in a blood-soaked nightgown. Once the police arrive, Rhea is placed with the Child Welfare Commission (CWC) and Anu is sent to prison. It soon becomes clear that Anu is disliked by her mother-in-law (Deepti Naval) and is not even on talking terms with her own father. With Anu having no defence counsel or support, advocate Madhav Mishra (Pankaj Tripathi) is summoned. The newly married Madhav leaves his wife Ratna (Khushboo Atre) on their wedding night and flies to Mumbai to take on the case. Everyone speaks of it as an ‘open-and-shut’ case but Madhav does not agree. He seeks the help of advocate Nikhat Hussain (Anupriya Goenka), who reluctantly agrees to assist him. Soon, it becomes evident that there’s a lot more to this case than meets the eye and that Bikram Chandra may not have been the man everyone thought he was.
The show is as much a drama drama
At its heart, the show is about marital relationships. It delves into the humiliating manner in which husbands sometimes treat their wives and how society turns a blind eye to this. Whether it’s the relationship between Bikram and Anu, the one between police officers Harsh Pradhan (Ajeet Singh Palwat) and his wife Gauri Pradhan (Kalyanee Mulay) or the one between Nikhat’s mother and absentee father, the show subtly highlights how society normalises the wrongs committed by men.
The show takes plenty of time to unwrap the mystery and everything only falls into place in the last two episodes, during the trial. This is not an edge-of-the-seat whodunnit but a gradual unraveling of a heinous crime. Kirti essays the role of the meek, helpless and distraught Anu flawlessly, eliciting sympathy even though she murdered her husband. The brilliant Pankaj Tripathi and Khushboo Atre who plays Ratna, provide comic relief at regular intervals. Anupriya Goenka is wonderful as Nikhat and Ashish Vidyarthi, who puts in an appearance much later as prosecuting lawyer Prabhu, fills the screen with his commanding presence.
WATCH OR NOT
Criminal Justice 2 offers a well-thought plot, perfectly fleshed out characters and just eight episodes, making it highly watchable. It deals with plenty of issues prevalent in contemporary Indian society, such as routine injustices committed against women.
Directors: Rohan Sippy, Arjun Mukherjee
Writer: Apurva Asrani
Starring: Kirti Kulhari, Pankaj Tripathi, Anupriya Goenka, Jisshu Sengupta, Deepti Naval, Mita
Vasisht, Ashish Vidyarthi, Adrija Sinha
Streaming on: Disney+ Hotstar