Step into the intriguing world of courtroom dramas, where the theatrics of impassioned speeches and the illusion of witnessing authentic legal proceedings come alive on the silver screen. These films have become a popular choice among movie enthusiasts, offering heated debates, unexpected twists, and ethical dilemmas that keep you on the edge of your seat.
Infused with high-intensity drama and gripping plotlines, here are the 7 best of Bollywood’s courtroom dramas.
1) Aitraaz (2004)
Aitraaz, released in 2004 and directed by Abbas-Mustan, stands as a film that drew inspiration from the Michael Douglas-starrer ‘Disclosure’ (1994). Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra played former lovers with a history as fiery as a volcano. Priyanka’s character decided to call it quits, even going so far as to terminate their unborn child. Despite being married to a rich man who also happened to be Akshay’s boss, she was simmering with sexual frustration, craving a taste of their spicy past. When her seductive moves fell flat, she whipped out her secret weapon—accusing Akshay’s character of molestation!
Cue the courtroom drama! At first, it seemed like she had the upper hand, but Akshay’s on-screen wife, the fabulous Kareena Kapoor, rocked the scene as a kickass lawyer. With killer cross-examination skills, she dismantled Priyanka’s deceitful facade, leaving everyone gasping for breath. “Aitraaz” pushed the boundaries of Indian cinema with its audacious plot, and Priyanka, a newbie at the time, fearlessly embraced the role of the wicked antagonist.
2) No one killed jessica (2011)
‘No One Killed Jessica’ is a crime thriller directed and written by the talented Raj Kumar Gupta. This movie is a rollercoaster of emotions as this gripping story unfolds. Rani Mukerji takes on the role of Meera Gaity, a fearless news reporter, while Vidya Balan delivers a stellar performance as Sabrina, Jessica’s determined sister. The plot revolves around the tragic murder of a bartender, shot by none other than a politician’s son. Sabrina embarks on a relentless quest for justice, seeking to bring the culprits to account.
As the case gains momentum, the police find themselves under scrutiny by the High Court. A request is made to reopen the case, and the High Court grants the motion, setting the stage for a thrilling legal battle. The tension escalates as the matter escalates to the Supreme Court, where courtroom drama takes centre stage. The twists and turns of the judicial proceedings are heavy as the guilty face the consequences of their actions, ultimately receiving a life sentence in jail. No One Killed Jessica leaves no stone unturned in its pursuit of justice, showcasing the power of determination and the fight against a corrupt system.
3) OMG – Oh My God! (2012)
‘OMG – Oh My God!’ has the craziest storyline to ever hit the Bollywood silver screen. Get this: it’s a tale where a mere mortal decides to sue the Almighty Himself. This movie is an official remake of the 2001 Australian film, ‘The Man Who Sued God,’ with a sprinkle of inspiration from a Gujarati stage-play called ‘Kanji Virudh Kanji.’ Umesh Shukla, the mastermind behind this satirical comedy-drama masterpiece, wrote and directed “OMG – Oh My God!”. The main lead played by the legendary Paresh Rawal, goes by the name of Kanji Lalji Mehta. When a devastating earthquake rips through his shop, he naturally turns to his insurance claim for some financial relief. The claim is swiftly denied because apparently, the insurance policy doesn’t cover any damage caused by the so-called “Acts of God.”
Well, Kanji isn’t one to back down easily. Enter Akshay Kumar, the man of the hour, as Krishna Vasudev Yadav. With Krishna’s quirky guidance and the help of a cunning lawyer named Hanif Qureshi (portrayed by the incredible Om Puri), Kanji unleashes a storm across the nation. They file petitions left and right on behalf of those who have fallen victim to these “Acts of God.” This movie takes audacity to a whole new level. Through the legal maze and the unexpected twists that make this film a must-watch.
4) Jolly LLB (2013)
In the realm of Bollywood justice, we all know Jolly, played by the ever-charming Arshad Warsi, a rookie lawyer who’s never tackled a big case before. On the other side, we have the formidable Tejinder Rajpal, portrayed by the brilliant Boman Irani, a legal heavyweight who’s never known defeat. When news reaches Jolly’s ears that Rajpal is defending a wealthy scion accused of mowing down six innocent souls while they peacefully slumbered on the pavement, he smells an opportunity for instant fame. He files a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) and shamelessly accepts a bribe to throw the case. Talk about a twist in the legal tale!
But hold your horses, because Jolly’s girlfriend ain’t having any of that corruption nonsense. She gives him a reality check that shakes him to the core. He returns the ill-gotten gains and decides to fight with unwavering determination. He stumbles a bit at first, but when Rajpal’s indifference towards the deaths of those impoverished pavement dwellers pushes Jolly’s buttons, he embarks on a parallel investigation. In a daring move that puts his own life at risk, Jolly unearths a crucial witness and brings them to the court, ensuring that the underprivileged victims finally taste the sweet nectar of justice. This film serves as a biting satire on our flawed judicial system. It exposes the callous apathy of the privileged towards the downtrodden, hitting the nail right on the head.
5) Pink (2016)
In the film ‘Pink’ directed by the talented Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, consent takes centre stage and delivers a powerful message. It’s a simple concept, really: when a girl says no, it’s NO. Three fearless ladies, Minal (Taapsee Pannu), Falak (Kirti Kulhari), and Andrea, find themselves harassed by three men. Revenge lurks in the heart of their well-connected friend, Ankit. Stalking, job loss, and a horrifying assault follow, all accompanied by a warning to stay silent. In the courtroom, the men’s hired lawyer spins a despicable tale, labelling the brave girls as prostitutes. They partied with strangers, sipped drinks, rocked out at concerts, and heaven forbid, wore revealing clothes.
But, Amitabh Bachchan, steps up as their defence attorney. He calls out the double standards women face, highlighting that society labels them with these stereotypes while giving men a free pass. His argument is simple yet profound: the girl said no. No means no, period. No further explanation is needed. It’s a tale where justice fights back, where women refuse to be silenced, and where the power of no resounds loud and clear.
6) Rustom (2016)
Directed by the talented Tinu Suresh Desai and written by Vipul K Rawal, ‘Rustom’ is a thrilling masterpiece that draws inspiration from a true story from the infamous incident involving Naval Officer K.M. Nanavati and industrialist Prem Ahuja. In the film, the charismatic Akshay Kumar takes on the role of Rustom, a character who shocks the world by confessing to the murder of Vikram Makhija, portrayed by Arjan Bajwa.
But here’s the twist: Rustom decides to defend himself in court, fighting tooth and nail to prove his innocence before a jury. The film weaves together a mesmerizing narrative, driven by Kumar’s compelling courtroom arguments and a series of unexpected twists and turns. Alongside Kumar, the talented Ileana D’Cruz and Esha Gupta add depth and intrigue to the story with their remarkable performances. ‘Rustom’ unravels the truth, blurring the lines between guilt and innocence.
7) Mulk (2018)
Directed by the visionary Anubhav Sinha, this film dares to ask the tough questions. Who truly loves their country? And why should their love be subject to interrogation? The unsettling reality of the citizenship crisis in Assam, where millions find themselves stripped of their identity, forms the backdrop of this gripping tale. In a world where the “us versus them” mentality is considered supreme, Shahid Mohammed, played by the talented Prateik Babbar, finds himself labelled as a terrorist. Tragically, he meets his demise in a supposed encounter, while his father, Bilaal Mohammed (Manoj Pahwa), faces arrest on charges of terrorist connections. Adding to the turmoil, advocate Murad Ali Mohammed (Rishi Kapoor), who is fighting for justice, is accused of collusion.
Now, enter Aarti (Taapsee Pannu), Murad’s daughter-in-law and a lawyer herself, determined to clear her family’s name and uphold the truth in the courtroom. As the battle unfolds, the film fearlessly exposes the layers of prejudice, injustice, and the urgent need for redemption. Never before have such poignant questions been raised with such audacity in our cinema. It’s a wake-up call that challenges the status quo and compels us to confront the flaws in our society.