It was 1959, and a dark cloud loomed over the Indian judiciary questioning the devices of the law and order in India. The social circuit of the (then) Bombay city had come to a grinding haul, as Prem Ahuja was murdered by a naval officer K. M. Nanavati, under the pretext of having an affair with his wife, Sylvia Nanavati. The common man was gripped by the tenacious clutches of fear. After the Brits had gone, the common man was left to the whims of authority who’d openly walk around, completely armed, gunning innocent, and guilty on a go!
The intense season of The Verdict, comprising 10 episodes, explores the nuances of the famous Nanavati case. The narrative is inspired by a number of other accounts that circumvented around the case including the famed film ‘Rustom’ and ‘Achanak’, and the literally purists of an unknown author who penned, ‘ Nanavati ka Mukadma’.
Exploring the narrative
Naval Commander K.M. Nanavati (played by Manav Kaul), is home again after a long stint on the high seas. He is taken aback by his wife, Sylvia Nanavati’s (played by Elli Avram) indifferent approach. In a brief interrogation, he discovers that his wife was having an affair with the alluring businessman, Prem Ahuja (played by Viraf Patel). The outrageous Nanavati promptly makes his way to Prem Ahuja’s residence, and guns him down at point-blank range, firing three bullets into the victim, shooting him dead. The scene cuts to Nanavati, getting to the Police headquarters, and making a confession to DCP Lobo (played by Rajesh Khera). The question arises, which court will take the case. Unfortunately, Mr Nanavati cannot be tried by the Indian naval court of law, as his had ventured out murdering a civilian. After much ado, The Parsee community requests Karl Khandalavala (Played by Angad Bedi) to fight Nanavati’s case. He does! And the ramifications are simply strapping. Mamie Ahuja (played by Kubra Sait) is frustrated by the over-confident doings of the state-appointed lawyer Chandu Trivedi (played by Makarand Deshpande), and later appoints Ram Jethmalani (played by Sumeet Vyas) as a handler of the case. How will one be delivered to justice? Rusi Karanjia’s ‘Blitz’, and his team of journalists including Vidhya Joshi (played by Pooja Gor) became the unnamed ‘media-partner’ on the case, giving citizens detailed insights on the progress of the case along with the baffling view-points as stirred by the then prolific editor Rusi Karanjia (played by Saurabh Shukla)
The plot explores a number of aspects on the case from Jethmalani’s point of view. Some of these include, women’s rights in the 1959-60’s. It has also showcased the diverse views, and how India is weird in an unknown catch 22, that is all involving of the modern-day, western ways of life and the old Indian value system that satiated the male ego.
The plus and minus
Though Sumeet Vyas, Angad Bedi, and Elli Avrram play the lead, the deep-rooted efforts of Makarand Deshpande get overlooked. He emerges as a supporting actor, he pretty-much holding the plot together; and he does so with panache! Sumeet Vyas beautifully susses out the shades of grey as he takes to Ram Jethmalani’s part. However, there are occasional dips in the consistency, as evident traces of ‘Sumeetness’ randomly come to the fore. Kubraa Sait, could have displayed little more gumption as her character demands the same, and she isn’t quite doing justice to her part. Saurabh Sukhla is a natural; and his stellar performance as an editor suits him well. His callous and curt ways win him extra brownie points on this one. Elli literally talks with her eyes. Director Sushant Shah, has progressively enhanced the nuances of the plot by strategically placing the elements of surprise at the right place or time. The plot is largely underlined by the exquisiteness of the production. Rated: 3.5/5