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Nail Polish review: A gritty, highly watchable courtroom drama

Manav Kaul and Arjun Rampal shine in this courtroom drama

Source: SIFY

By: Shrikanth Venkatesh

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Tuesday 05 January 2021

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Movie Title

Nail Polish review: A gritty, highly watchable courtroom drama

Director

‘Bugs’ Bhargava Krishna

Star Cast

Arjun Rampal, Manav Kaul, Anand Tiwari, Rajit Kapoor

Burnt corpses of migrant children are discovered with alarming frequency. 36 in all. There are indications of sexual assault. Police inaction comes under severe scrutiny. All clues point to a serial perpetrator. An arrest is finally made. The accused party is Veer Singh (Manav Kaul), a distinguished local citizen and an ex-serviceman. DNA evidence and a lack of alibi are damning. Veer is hauled into prison.

The above para could have worked as an abridged treatment or scene card material for an all-out slasher film. But in Nail Polish (directed by Bhargava Krishna on his debut) streaming on Zee5, these scenes play out over the first 20 minutes.

Nail Polish paints itself more as a courtroom drama. Though Veer’s is the central character, we could say the protagonist is Sid Jaisingh (Arjun Rampal), the lawyer who is roped in to defend him. Sid is rivalled in court by Amit Kumar, the prosecuting lawyer. The ever dependable Rajit Kapoor puts in a shift as Judge Bhushan.

Effort has been made to accentuate each character and add contrasting hues. Sid is presented as a pompous, arrogant and entitled second-generation lawyer with amoral shades. Arjun Rampal literally walks into the role. Amit on the other hand is one of those honest guardians of professional ethics who wouldn’t toe a line, legally or morally. He’s someone who might not drive a swanky imported car, but would make his kids proud

There’s this wonderful scene that underscores this, where Amit’s young son dons a lawyer-vigilante costume inspired by his dad for a school fancy dress competition. Now here’s a second-generation lawyer in the making with the right values imbued!

The courtroom sequence itself might not blow you away, especially if you’ve consumed the tons of forensic procedural content on offer on OTT these days, but it is smartly written and quite engaging nevertheless. The full span of courtroom tropes tangential to a crime of this nature do play out and you can imagine what these could be. But all of a sudden, there’s a twist. I don’t wish to include spoilers, so let me just say there’s an accident of sorts leading to a question mark around the mental health of the accused. I’ve dumbed this ‘twist’ down, but it’s actually quite striking and elaborately narrated in the film. We are made privy to dark hidden secrets from Veer’s past, from a time when he literally used to live double lives. The trial that began with the objective of establishing Veer’s guilt is turned on its head and the judiciary is presented with a unique dilemma instead. Perhaps it is only fitting then that we (the audience) were shown a title card at the beginning of the film, asking us to examine the evidences and arguments closely, and judge Veer’s guilt for ourselves in light of the judicial quandary finally presented.

Nail Polish is a gritty film and is gripping for the most part. The acting is generally top notch, with Arjun Rampal and Manav Kaul especially in fine form. I felt the writing could have cut down on some flab, especially around the character arc building it attempts. I love it when a film gets this right, but it shouldn’t be shoe-horned in as a sort of screenwriting 101 must have.

For instance, we could have done away completely with the narrative around the judge’s alcoholic wife. Sometimes, all we need is for the film to be the riveting, fast paced affair its genre promises. Make no mistake, this film is highly watchable as it is, but would have been a nail-biting affair with a few scenes clipped out.

Shrikanth is a Chartered Accountant, who keenly follows and writes about cinema when he is not crunching numbers or balancing ledgers! You can find more of his work at Non Linear Plot

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