Long is the list of movie lawyers who have won personal victories alongside favourable verdicts. In Patna Shuklla, Raveena Tandon plays one such advocate whose latest case proves life-altering for her as well as her client.

Tandon’s Tanvi Shukla is a lawyer who is slogging through trivial matters at a district court in Patna. Casually condescended to by her husband Siddharth (Manav Vij), Tanvi yearns for the opportunity to graduate beyond domestic goddess status. When impecunious student Rinku (Anushka Kaushik) walks in complaining that she has been unfairly give a low grade, Tanvi sits up in her chair.

The case is being heard at the court of the benign judge Arun Kumar Jha (Satish Kaushik). Rinku has a formidable opposing lawyer, Neelkanth (Chandan Roy Sanyal), and a scary adversary, the ambitious politician Raghubeer (Jatin Goswami).

Vivek Budakoti’s Hindi-language film is out on Disney+ Hotstar. Budakoti’s screenplay, co-written with Sameer Arora and Farid Khan, sets up its premise well before veering into over-plotting. Before the earnest speechifying sets in, Patna Shuklla competently lays out the stakes for Tanvi and Rinku, while also depicting the rot that has set into the examination system.

The old-fashioned emphasis on moral probity leans a bit too heavily in favour of its crusading heroine. Tanvi’s courtroom tactics and legal acrobatics often bring her intelligence into question. But Budakoti does well by his cast, who suitably underplay a story that could have been louder and more melodramatic than it is.

Raveena Tandon’s compelling lead performance is ably backed by Manav Vij. Satish Kaushik is a delight as the judge with personal eccentricities and an unwavering commitment to the straight and narrow.

Patna Shuklla (2024).