A mild-mannered chartered accountant is subjected to two sets of raids within days of each other. The first is by the Central Bureau of Investigation, which wants to know whether Bansi Keswani (Vinay Pathak) has helped a minister hide a trail of corruption. The other is by the Mumbai Police, and follows an allegation of theft against Bansi by the builder (Arif Zakaria). Since Bansi is up to his neck in debt, it is assumed that he is a shady sort.

Defence lawyer Birbal Chaudhuri (Rohan Vinod Mehra) attempts to prove that Bansi has been framed. Appearing for the prosecution is Savak Jamshedji (Ranvir Shorey), who argues in impeccable Parsi Hindi that Bansi is a consummate crook.

Written and directed by Manish Gupta and out on Zee5, 420 IPC sets out to explore the ways in which the criminal offence of fraud and cheating plays differently for different characters. Birbal is keen on using the trial to bolster his reputation. Bansi’s wife (Gul Panag) behaves in an odd manner. There is some suspense over whether Bansi is lying through his teeth or is indeed a victim of forces bigger than him.

The 99-minuute movie has the look and feel of a meaty episode from a crime show on television. The narrative is bloated by overly lengthy scenes and dialogue exchanges. The performances are mostly perfunctory. Rohan Vinod Mehra, who made his debut with Bazaar in 2018, has to cede ground to his rival in the courtroom and outside it. Ranvir Shorey deftly plays the archetypal Parsi lawyer with a judicious balance of credibility and parody.

420 IPC (2021).