The Verdict – State vs. Nanavati: Web Series Review
Cast: Manav Kaul, Elli AvrRam, Viraf Patel, Saurabh Shukla, Angad Bedi, Sumeet Vyas, Kubbra Sait, Makarand Deshpande, Soni Razdan, Swanand Kirkire, Pooja Gor.
Director: Shashant Shah.
Language: Hindi, English.
Genre: Courtroom Drama.
Channel: ALTBalaji & ZEE5.
Release Date: 30th September 2019.
Based on the infamous 1959 K. M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra court case, The Verdict – State vs. Nanavati follows the trial of Naval Commander Kawas Nanavati, accused of murdering businessman Prem Ahuja, who had an affair with his wife, Sylvia Nanavati, while Kawas was on duty.
- The Verdict – State vs Nanavati (hereafter referred to as “The Verdict” in this review) does not just focus on the case, but captures all the happenings around it as well – the effects of the court proceedings, the political interference and military pressure, the rising social tension between Parsi and Sindhi communities that engulf Mumbai, as well as the legal tactics used by the lawyers to bring down the other side.
- The web series also sheds light on the significant role played by the media, especially the newspaper Blitz and its Editor Russi Karanjia (played by Saurabh Shukla) in sensationalizing the issue, shaping the public opinion in favor of Nanavati, and riling up the Parsis. Unlike the 2016 film Rustom, this series runs closer to the facts, also keeping the character names intact.
- The Verdict also portrays the devastating effects faced by the grief-stricken families on both sides during the case, wherein character-assassinations become the norm in the courtroom, and strange looks, whispers, and insensitive comments, suffocate the life outside the court. Another positive point is that The Verdict also shows the troubles that the Nanavati children face at school amidst this drama.
- In a story dominated by men, it shines light on the two often-ignored characters that paid a heavy price– Sylvia Nanavati (Elli AvrRam) and Mamie Ahuja (Kubbra Sait). The way Sylvia is pushed around and shamed, and Mamie has her happiness stolen, and how they continue to stand their ground are two story arcs that make this series different than other adaptations on this case.
- The Bombay of the 50s is presented well, encapsulating its culture of post-independence nationalism, its vintage cars, the hairstyles, fashion, as well as passing mentions of political happenings like Samyukta Maharashtra and Mahagujarat movements, CPI split, Indo-China War, etc. The color palette used in the series, the lighting, the visuals, etc. add to the vintage effect.
- The storyline lacks the thrill, the suspense, the cliffhangers, the excitement or even the tension that are essential in a good courtroom drama. There’s nothing much except the need to finish the story that will make you watch the next episode or the one after that.
- Courtroom dramas require great oration, tense arguments, and drama, and while The Verdict has some of it, the dialogues rarely have the punch or the tension that keeps you hooked.
- Stretched across ten tardy episodes, the writing is extremely slow-paced, venturing into unnecessary subplots that do not add much to the story. There could’ve definitely been snips here and there, and perhaps, it wouldn’t seem too lengthy then.
- The characters, especially Manav Kaul’s Nanavati and Elli AvrRam’s Sylvia, are not fleshed out very well, and despite the presence of such a talented ensemble cast, the show fails to deliver the courtroom drama that it seemed to promise or that it should have been.
The Verdict – State vs. Nanavati is worth watching if you want to gain more information about events surrounding the case and can tolerate long-drawn-out storylines without the supplementary Bollywood-style theatrics and dramatization.
- Elli AvrRam was seen in Netflix’s horror web series, Typewriter, and will be a part of Amazon Prime Video’s Inside Edge Season 2. She is the first Swedish actress to work in Bollywood as well as Indian Web Entertainment Industry.
- Shashant Shah has directed web series such as Shaadi Boys, Aafat, as well as Jamai 2.0. He is also the director of the TV show, Yeh Moh Moh ke Dhaage.
Watch The Trailer Here: