Hotstar is now producing originals in India, and Criminal Justice is the first of the many official REMAKES of popular sitcoms pipelined in the coming months. This series is adapted from the UK series called…. CRIMINAL JUSTICE, which has been remade by HBO in America too, called A Night Of (starring Riz Ahmad). Both the UK and the American version of the series have been critically acclaimed and wildly popular (no pressure Tigmanshu Dhulia!) Unfortunately, the Indian version, now available on Hotstar, doesn’t live up to that standard.
Vikrant Massey as Aditya is a misfit right from the start. Hotstar’s Criminal Justice is his journey from a life of normalcy to an incident in one night that turns him into a survivalist. The question throughout is not Aditya’s innocence or guilt – it’s his transformation as a person to try and come across one way or another. Unlike A Night Of which focuses on the socio-political scenario post 9/11, the Hotstar version stays away from any social statement. It’s easy to say that the show was a platform to discuss or dissect the caste-system, but the makers didn’t want to make a statement, which possibly left it with an underwhelming plot.
The strength of the show comes from its cast. Apart from Massey, it’s Pankaj Tripathi as the lawyer Misra who shines the brightest and even carries the dull moments of the script with panache. Jackie Shroff too impresses with his signature swagger and style. But, when an already established story has to depend on its cast to carry the show, you know there are flaws that a usually smart director, wants you to ignore. There are issues with the pace, and the intercut treatment of the narrative is tedious in parts while the thrill and anticipation, also fluctuate more than needed.
Criminal Justice tries hard to impress the audience and with Dhulia helming the series with a stellar cast. This one misses the mark as a wholesome piece of entertainment, but if you are a performance aficionado, then give it a chance.