By Troy Ribeiro
Series: 'Illegal 2' (Streaming on Voot Select), Duration: 35 minutes an episode
Director: Ashwini Chaudhary
Cast: Neha Sharma, Piyush Mishra, Akshay Oberoi, Tanuj Virwani, Satyadeep Misra, Achint Kaur, Kriti Vij, Parul Gulati, Ankit Gupta
IANS Rating: ***1/2
Set in the underbelly of the legal system with lawyers, police, politicians, criminals, and victims, 'Illegal 2', streaming on Voot Select, is an engrossing drama that crusades on exposing the atrocities taking place in its universe. It deals smartly and candidly with issues of power, how business really gets done in our legal and political systems, and the trade-offs we all make just to get through the day.
Taking off soon after Season 1, the once budding lawyer Niharika (Neha Sharma) has become a force to reckon with. Joining hands with the Public Prosecutor she is pitched against Janardhan Jaitley (Piyush Mishra), her once mentor and now a politician who is aspiring to be the Chief Minister.
Setting up an office while strapped for finance is a big task that Niharika and Puneet hurdle. Taking off from there how they pick clients and cases while battling issues on their respective personal fronts, and facing heads-on with 'Jaitley and Associates', which is now being managed by Janardhan's son Akshay (Akshay Oberoi) and his estranged wife Devika (Parul Gulati), forms the crux of 'Illegal 2'.
The quirky cases involving Criminal and Corporate law appear realistic and oft-heard in daily papers. And when it comes to the legal proceedings, more than the courtroom drama, attention is paid to research and investigation and "being ahead of the opponent" to solve cases. As a viewer, you relate to the cases, and root for the issues.
While the first four episodes run on an even keel on a smooth note, the romantic bond between Niharika and Raghav in the fifth episode gives you a jerk. Their overtly crafted relationship speaks of lazy writing. Similarly, while watching Janardhan Jaitley and his lackeys interact, you wonder why all lackeys are stereotyped as goons.
Every character in this series is an important pawn in the script, but the focus is blatant on Neha Sharma, who, as Niharika, delivers a pitch-perfect, fine-tuned performance. She is aptly supported by Tanuj Virwani as her love interest Raghav Malhotra and Akshay Oberoi as the torn-in-between man on all fronts.
Satyadeep Misha as Puneet Tandon and Kriti Vij as his love interest Surekha or Sue, complement each other and make a cute pair. But unfortunately, they don't get much screen time.
Piyush Mishra as the sneaky, unscrupulous politician is stereotypical, so is Achint Kaur as Chief Minister Mrinalini Singh.
The 35-minute episodes with compelling plot twists are easy to binge-watch.
Overall, the series about the "powerful and the powerless", totally romanticises the Indian legal system, making it flashier and cooler than it actually is.