To date, Hindi cinema has saturated the legal drama genre. Many films have courtroom scenes as a significant part of their narrative. Many are exaggerated, while there are only a few that realistically portray actual courtroom scenes. These are some of the films in this genre, Shaurya, Jai Bhim, Mulk, Pink, Sirf Ek Bandaa Kaafi Hai, Jolly LLB, No One Killed Jessica and Meri Jung. Web series in the legal drama genre have recently become all the rage; there are shows like Guilty Minds, Your Honor, and Criminal Justice, to name a few, that have caught the attention of the audience and helped them understand how our system works.
The Trial on Disney+ Hotstar is a new addition to the list above. The official remake of the famous CBS show The Good Wife, this one takes us through the life of a woman who has been betrayed by her husband, and as a result, she needs an avenue to be financially stable.
Noyonika Finds A Job
The show begins with Rajiv Sengupta, an additional judge, being arrested on charges of corruption and soliciting sexual favors for bribes, footage of which has been leaked. His wife Noyonika and kids Ananya and Anaira are put in the spotlight of the scandal. As a woman and a wife, she is forced to be on her husband’s side in front of the media instead of letting her make a stand on this. Just like any other woman, she is also put on trial by the media.
The whole setup brings into question the media’s role in sensationalizing family dynamics. Rajiv should be the one answering questions, not Noyonika. The viewers can only sympathize with Noyonika, but it is she who has to pull up her socks and find a way to get herself and her daughters out of this rut so that they can move forward.
After moving to a smaller apartment and facing multiple job rejections, Noyonika finally lands a job at her old friend Vishal’s firm. Vishal informs her of the probationary period of six months. Her work will cement her position by the end. The firm’s other partner, Malini, is not keen on having Noyonika around. She assumes Vishal offered the job out of respect for their friendship. Noyonika’s lack of experience also means they could end up losing cases, something Malini cannot afford at this moment as the firm is incurring losses. If the firm was unprofitable, it does not make sense for Vishal to hire two new employees, implying that he is harboring some feelings for Noyonika.
Vishal is not a ladies’ man. His fondness for Noyonika since their dating days in college had led to this moment. They broke up a long time ago, and Noyonika has moved on ever since. Vishal keeps his distance and never oversteps his boundaries because he knows Noyonika’s goals and intentions are different at this point. He helps her get on the path to becoming an excellent lawyer by giving her space to grow.
Juhi’s Acquittal And The Defamation Case
SNP News, a national Hindi news channel, has harassed Juhi Bhatia ever since her arrest due to her alleged role in the suicide of her boyfriend, Mohit. The entire subplot parallels the real life death of a famous Hindi actor and the ordeal his girlfriend had to face due to the constant badgering of many news channels. Juhi is Noyonika’s first case, and she gets bail successfully. Long after Juhi’s acquittal, SNP News, run by Daksh Rathod, was relentlessly referring to her as a murderer, which led to Juhi being traumatized and ostracized by the people in her vicinity. Her state of mind disturbed Noyonika because she was put through the same media trial by the same journalist. She supports Juhi and files defamation claims against him for ruining Juhi’s reputation on a public platform. It only makes sense for Noyonika to make this move because, through Juhi, she sees how women are constantly put through trials and tribulations. Daksh is modeled after a certain loudmouth journalist and the kind of insensitive journalism that he’s well known for.
Sana works as a consultant with Malini and Vishal’s firm and helps in getting detailed information about any case handled by her employers. This is a research job that would make the case stronger. Sana comes across as a helpful person because she feels Noyonika is working hard to find her footing. But Sana does not reveal her involvement in Rajiv’s corruption scandal of which she will be a prime witness, and her statement would make or break Rajiv’s life. Sana keeps talking about wrongdoing she has engaged in in the past, but the writers do not present an elaborate picture of her history or why she has become cynical. Her arc only made sense when Noyonika was involved, but at other times her complex nature was hard to decipher.
The Law Firm Is Split
Malini and Vishal are constantly worried about the sinking law firm, and their senior partner Kishore Ahuja, who was AWOL for a long time, suddenly makes an appearance to file an illogical PIL that will not bring any profit to the firm. No one in the firm, not even his partners Malini and Vishal, agrees to his preposterous demands because they know the man is acting out of character. As colleagues, the two of them can see that the man is arrogant and all about himself. He is respected only because of his experience and the high-profile clients he got for the firm.
Realizing things will not work his way, Kishore decides to split the firm and walk away with his clients. Kishore Ahuja is stuck with an old-school mindset that does not see the work culture has changed drastically, while he is still banking on the glories he has achieved. Only time will tell if his firm will survive or not. For the time being, Noyonika is with Malini and Vishal as a show of loyalty.
Rajiv Asks For Forgiveness
Noyonika visits Rajiv because she is confronted by municipal commissioner Sharad Jadhav, who claims to have plenty of evidence against her husband. It only makes sense because Rajiv is at his weakest and cannot put a stop to the stories being cooked up against him. Rajiv reveals that he and Sharad Jadhav fell out over a deal he refused to sign. Ever since, Sharad Jadhav made sure that Rajiv stayed in prison. A classic case of misusing power and manipulating the evidence.
Rajiv tries to pacify Noyonika, claiming he will make things right for the family, but reality has not hit him even though he is sitting in prison and making empty promises. Noyonika is the one who is still facing a brutal society and lives with it because of his actions. She does not trust his words after a scandal that shattered her life and dignity. She is right about reality being far different from what Rajiv perceives it to be.
The court finally grants Rajiv bail. The man is back in her life, but only time will tell if she wants to be with him or not. She is also under pressure from Rajiv’s mother, who is in denial about the current situation in the family. Noyonika is immune to her mother-in-law’s taunts because she has a bigger goal, which is to financially provide for herself and her daughters. The two different kinds of mindsets because of the generational gap are portrayed through this narrative.
Noyonika And Vishal In Cochin
One of their cases takes Vishal and Noyonika to Cochin to defend a client who is fighting against her insurance company for not paying for her surgery. Vishal and Noyonika initially lose the case, and the former is deeply affected by this loss. Vishal has never gotten personally involved in any of his clients cases, but this time he fights persistently, but all goes in vain. Vishal is in an emotional state of mind at this juncture. He and Noyonika have never been in such close quarters outside of the office, and he kisses her. Vishal made a move because he had to let out his pent-up feelings. Vishal felt it was high time he could talk about his feelings for Noyonika, and he believed he could provide her with a better life. He does not spell all this out right away because he is unaware of her plans now that Rajiv is out on bail.
Will Rajiv’s Future Plans Affect Noyonika?
With Rajiv out on bail, his lawyer Bharat and his best friend Ilyas are working day and night to make a strong case against the state so that Rajiv is acquitted on all charges. The problem lies with Sharad Jadhav, who is going all guns blazing against Rajiv and using every possible political tactic so that Rajiv is declared guilty. Ilyas turns out to be his only friend who never left Rajiv’s side. Ilyas is also a man with many political connections. This detail does not make sense because, just like Sharad Jadhav, Ilyas could have used his contacts to make Rajiv’s case stronger. At a juncture, there was a thought that maybe Ilyas wanted him out of the picture and use every possible piece of information against Rajiv. It turns out that was just speculation, not the truth. He is a loyal friend because, even though he is aware of the mistakes Rajiv has made, he never wants to give up on him. By the looks of it, Ilyas has bigger plans for Rajiv, which he has only revealed to Noyonika.
He knows Rajiv is at a juncture where he would not do anything if Noyonika did not agree to it. Ilyas wants Noyonika to forgive Rajiv and help him formulate an elaborate plan to relaunch Rajiv’s career. Noyonika disagrees because, as a spouse, she feels Rajiv needs to spend time with his family and heal the wounds he left instead of going back to work as a public servant. Her words only make sense because Rajiv’s stay in jail had more of an effect on his family than his career, and he should be trying to rectify his mistake by being present for them physically and emotionally. Going back to a hectic life would only mean their lives going back to square one, and she does not want that for herself, Rajiv, and the kids.
Noyonika’s defamation case against Daksh Rathod takes a tragic turn when Juhi attempts to commit suicide and slips into a coma. The case intensifies when Kishore Ahuja takes up Daksh’s case, and the matter gets ugly in court. The court agrees that his behavior constitutes defamation and orders Daksh Rathod to pay a large amount to Juhi and her family, but sadly she passes away. This narrative was exaggerated because Juhi’s death was included in the story to dramatize the issue at hand, which is that media sensationalism can ruin, and even end lives. If only the writers had dealt with this matter sensitively and subtly.
Rajiv’s lawyer backs out because he is sure the case is a lost cause. Malini and Vishal take up the case. Sana is one of the witnesses from the state, but she changes her statement in court, making her an hostile witness. Her change of statement comes at a juncture when she realizes Noyonika is a good person and she deserves to have a decent life with her family, even though she is aware that Rajiv is far from a decent guy. Sana has made many mistakes, which she states many times in the show, and helping Noyonika is probably her first step towards doing a good deed for her conscience. Rajiv is proven innocent because Tina, the escort’s statement, revealed that Rajiv paid for her services, and that they can’t be considered a bribe. This is only the beginning of his life as a free man. Behind the scenes, it was Noyonika and Ilyas who made sure the prime witness did not testify against Rajiv. It is only ironic that they bribed the witness to acquit Rajiv of corruption charges. Fighting for her husband would also mean she wants to forgive him and slowly move on to live a quiet life.
Ilyas brings his barrage of political contacts to Malini and Vishal’s firm as their new clients, making Noyonika’s job a permanent position. Noyonika quickly learns that Ilyas did this so that she will be forever indebted to him and will never be able to say no to his requests, and one of them happens to be taking Rajiv into the political foyer. It is not clear what Ilyas noticed in Rajiv that made him want to make him a public figure. This was a well-maneuvered plan that Noyonika did not see coming. She should have acted smart and manipulated Rajiv to be on her side. Ilyas trumping her proves that she has a lot to learn when it comes to politics.
There is also a public announcement of the same, in which Rajiv and Noyonika make an appearance together as a show of unity. Another gimmick and a recreation of the first scene of the show, where Noyonika is again forced to be on his side. She surely does not want a political future for him, and he conveniently does not take her words seriously. This sets the tone for the couple, and only in the second season will we see if the husband and wife are fine with this whole façade.
The episode ends with Vishal having a conversation with Noyonika and confessing his feelings for her. Noyonika, being a practical person, wants more than just feelings because the last six months have been a crude reminder that love is not enough. As she goes on to the dais, Vishal leaves a voice note asking her to leave her husband and be with him. Vishal understands what she wants from life, and only he could be the supportive partner she is seeking. His confession comes a bit too late because Ilyas hears the voice note and deletes it. Vishal does not realize that it is her decision whether she wants to remain married or walk out on Rajiv. If The Trial goes into its second season, it will be interesting to watch what will be Noyonika’s big decision. She will either choose to stay with Rajiv or walk out on him.