‘Maamla Legal Hai’ Review: Netflix Legal Comedy Is Occasionally Funny And Self-Aware


For the longest time, while talking about courtroom dramas, the most common scene that was referred to was Damini. But since that was probably pretty inaccurate and misrepresented the way the law works, a concerted effort was made to move the genre towards realism while ensuring that the topic at hand was treated with respect. That was how we got Jolly LLB, Court, and Jai Bhim. When the OTT wars began, it seemed like every streaming platform put out their very own legal drama. Disney+ Hotstar had Criminal Justice and The Trial, Prime Video had Guilty Minds, SonyLIV had Your Honor, Voot had Illegal – Justice, Out of Order, and ALT Balaji had The Verdict: State vs. Nanavati. I guess Netflix was feeling a little left out, and they have joined the race with Maamla Legal Hai. Is it worth it? Well, let’s find out.

Showrunner Sameer Saxena’s Maamla Legal Hai, written by Saurabh Khanna and Kunal Aneja, takes place at the Patparganj District Court in Delhi. The story mostly revolves around the President of the Bar Association of Patparganj, VD Tyagi. His assistants are Mintu, Munshiji, Sujata Negi, Law, and Order. In addition to dealing with the various cases arriving at the court’s doorstep, Tyagi is preparing to become the President of the Delhi Bar Association. His biggest adversary is Mahinder Phorey, who is vying for the same position. Amidst all this, there’s Ananya Shroff, who has come from Harvard to Patparganj to work in the field of legal aid and is merely trying to land her first case. Then there’s Vishwas Pandey, who acts as the bridge between the realm of too much experience and corruption and the realm of inexperience and idealism. And despite the show’s anthological storytelling, it mostly hinges on whether or not Tyagi’s cunningness is going to help him win the election and if Ananya’s honesty is going to last all the way to the end.

Maamla Legal Hai touches on a variety of topics. Through the overarching narrative about Tyagi’s election race and Ananya’s hands-on education, we get to see all the internal politics, bribery, backbiting, plagiarism, casteism, and hierarchy that exist within a district court, thereby giving us a basic idea of what possibly happens in the numerous types of legal institutions that exist in India. The individual cases range from divorce, child marriage, an abusive parrot, and more. That’s used to show the disparity between the ideal definitions of law and what the common folk think is righteous. This loophole is used by lawyers to forget about justice and use their clients as cash cows. When they cannot pay, they are ignored until they give up. And in those brief moments of self-awareness, the show becomes very real as it begins to reflect the dire state of the real-life Indian judiciary. Most of the seriousness is reserved for Tyagi’s character arc and not for the cases, and that’s when things get boring. The show hits its peak during the inmate wedding episode because it talks about the desires of women and womanhood in such an insightful and fun way.

Maamla Legal Hai is a meticulously crafted show. It takes a lot of effort from the production design, costume design, and set design departments to make a legal drama look and feel authentic. Everything from the logos to the pamphlets, the files, the memorabilia on one’s desk, and the lapel pins or other accessories the actors wear have clearly been selected with so much care that it speaks volumes about the characters before they reveal anything about themselves. The cinematography and editing keep the dialogue-heavy scenes (which make up 99% of the show) from feeling dull. That said, every time the setting leaves the courts, it gets a little uninventive. The pacing is fantastic, and it feels so refreshing to see a show that uses 30-35 minutes efficiently instead of shooting themselves in the foot by trying to hit the 45-50 minute mark. However, after a while, the loud display of the characters’ surnames, the shift of the focus from the plight of the common Indian to the celebration of these leeches masquerading as lawyers, and the overall treatment of some of its sensitive topics kind of expose the upper caste and upper-class lens through which this world is being explored. In short, it’s icky.

The cast of Maamla Legal Hai is huge, and all of them are good. So, I’ll try to talk about the most noticeable ones, and even if I miss anyone’s name, please know that I liked their performance. Ravi Kishan is good (if you can ignore his problematic politics), but very one note in an over-the-top way. The same can be said about Anjum Batra and Yashpal Sharma. Vijay Rajoria, despite being one note as well, is interesting to watch because he brings a sense of calmness amidst all the crazy shenanigans. Naila Grewal effortlessly tracks the evolution of Ananya. Nidhi Bisht is amazing, as always. Anant Joshi is impressive. Amit Vikram Pandey and Vikram Pratap are probably the MVPs of the show, even though their characters are treated like punching bags. Kumar Saurabh, in his langur get-up, takes the cake. Veterans like Brijendra Kala and Tanvi Azmi are simply fantastic. Imran Rasheed is great, and his chemistry with Bisht is perfect. Deepak Kumar, Keshav Thakur, Abhishek Sharma, Rrama Sharma, Samridhi Dutta, Gaurav Sarathe, Prerna Chawla, Adithi Kalkunte, and Garima Vikrant Singh really stood out. But, to add to what I said earlier, someone who appears on the screen for even a second absolutely nails it.

Without courting too much controversy, I’ll say that, much like every other legal drama that has come out in the past decade or so, Maamla Legal Hai has the uphill task of really capturing or commenting on the real-life bizarreness of the Indian judiciary. For those who aren’t really aware of what’s going on in district courts, high courts, and the Supreme Court all over the country, and they’ll be treating this show as their entry point, I think it’ll be enjoyable for them. But, as someone who tries to keep up with the times (not just in terms of entertainment), it seems like nothing more than a fun exercise. If I sit with it too much and think a lot about how the show deals with a ton of sensitive topics, I think I’ll end up overlooking its technical aspects (it’s a competently made show), and I’ll start lambasting its perspective (especially the stuff with the Delhi Police). Instead, I’ll give it a lukewarm recommendation and pray to whatever you believe in that you never cross paths with the type of lawyers presented in Maamla Legal Hai.

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Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit Chatterjee
Pramit loves to write about movies, television shows, short films, and basically anything that emerges from the world of entertainment. He occasionally talks to people, and judges them on the basis of their love for Edgar Wright, Ryan Gosling, Keanu Reeves, and the best television series ever made, Dark.

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