A young woman has been gang-raped by three men. Nobody seems to believe her or care. Nandhini’s father (Avinash) advises her to move on. The officer at the police station regards Nandhini’s complaint as the punchline of a joke. You should have clicked a selfie with the animals, the jovial inspector (Mandya Ramesh) tells Nandhini (Ragini Prajwal).

Brahma (Hebbale Krishna), the maverick Crime Branch officer in charge of the case, has his doubts about Nandhini. The judge (Mukhyamantri Chandru), who appears to be a refugee from Commedia dell’arte, whines over his wife and ticks off his dim-witted assistant in the middle of court proceedings.

The mean-spirited defence lawyer (Rajesh Nataranga), described as a formidable adversary, gets into the spirit of things too. I think she has watched a good film before coming to court, he says while attempting to discredit a crucial witness.

Among the clownish characters is the father of one of the three perpetrators, supposedly an influential politician with bottomless pockets. Brahma’s assistant keeps making sarcastic asides to ensure that his very short stint in the 119-minute film will count.

Their collective flippancy towards Nandhini’s plight infects the movie too. Raghu Samarth’s Kannada-language film, which is being streamed on Amazon Prime Video, gives a serious subject the lightweight treatment. Snappily narrated and filled with twists, some of which alert viewers might guess beforehand, Law works hard on being an entertainer about sexual assault – if that is possible at all.

What appears to be a courtroom drama is actually a thriller about the limitations of due process and the need to come up with extra-legal solutions. The big switcheroo, which is served around half-time, ends up taking the movie further away from its supposed goal – to prove that a victim of rape can, and will, get a fair hearing.

Law works hard on keeping viewers in the dark about the plot. One of its tricks is cleverly played out, and gives us some insights into Nandhini’s character.

Ragini Prajwal makes a confident debut in Law, and the other actors earn their paycheques too. Apart from Nandhini, the standout character is Mukhyamantri Chandru’s judge, who seems to have read Samarth’s screenplay all the way till the end and knows not to take anything that happens in his court or outside it too seriously.

Law (2020).