Cast: Jimmy Sheirgill, Gulshan Grover, Varun Badola, Parul Gulati, Mita Vashisht
Director: E Niwas
Rating: 3 Stars (out of 5)
SonyLIV's Your Honor, remake of a well-regarded Israeli web series, was a solidly crafted show. If not as good, Season 2, densely plotted and deliberately paced, comes commendably close to a rare repeat act. As they did in the first 12 episodes of the story, director E. Niwas and writer Ishan Trivedi keep a tight rein on the drama and the action and do not let the latter swamp out the former. Your Honor Season 2 is a judicious blend of intrigue and intensity.
More of the same can often translate into too much of a good thing. The new 10-episode season - five episodes are out this week, five more will follow next Friday - seeks to ward off the inevitable risk of being repetitive by bringing in a handful of new characters and carving out fresh settings to inject some variety into the tale. The core of Your Honor, of course, remains the same: Judge Bishan Khosla (Jimmy Sheirgill) continues to sink into a bottomless cesspool. His conflict with his conscience, the underworld and the police assumes darker overtones as he battles, his back to wall, on behalf of his troubled son Abeer (Pulkit Makol).
The story, with its modest scale and modulated means of delivery, holds its steady line thanks to the sustained moral complexity at the heart of the drama - it no doubt stems from the structure and substance of the original show. The quality of the acting - subdued rather than demonstrative - is once again impressively consistent with Jimmy Sheirgill in the role of the protagonist who subjugates his principles to his paternal instincts leading the way.
The story that centres on attempts to prevent the law from taking its own course is consistently gripping because it leans more towards emotions than flashy action. Your Honor S2, if its first five episodes are reliable pointers, abjures in-your-face methods. The show benefits from the prudently measured delineation of the multiple strands of the judge's worsening struggles.
The layers are steadily peeled off as the characters - be they on the side of the law or against it (at times it is impossible to tell one from the other), go toe-to-toe in a dangerous game that has no winners. The understated, even unhurried, manner enhances the impact of the series. It frequently moves away from violence and foul language - to be sure, there is no dearth of either here - and turns the spotlight on the psychological and emotional dimensions of the intensifying tussle between the protagonist on one hand and the underworld and the police on the other.
As we watch the machinations of the men and women who were introduced in the first season as well the ones who have just entered the narrative, our mind harks back to what Judge Khosla (Jimmy Sheirgill) had told an understudy in Season 1: "There are no angels in this story." Indeed. It Your Honor deals with varying degrees of moral degeneration.
The only one who could have been a man beyond reproach is the judge himself. But circumstances have conspired against him and his continually questionable choices under duress have weakened his chances of rising above the mess that he can only blame himself for. Judge Khosla is months away from being elevated to the high court but he has never been more at the mercy of the manipulative gangs that he has antagonized in his desperation to protect his son against the ire of a ruthlessly criminal family.
Judge Khosla still prides himself on never erring with his verdicts, but the hit-and-run case that pushed him and Abeer into the crooked path of a ruthless Ludhiana gang compels him to act against his own wise counsel. The judge is pulled in different directions more than ever in the face of the raging rivalry between the Mudkis and the Pandits and the relentless pressure the just-reinstated police officer Kiran Sekhon (Mita Vashisht) mounts on him.
When Kiran is convinced to make a comeback to the Ludhiana city police force, the DSP refers to his need for 'manpower'. A pregnant pause punctuates the conversation. In a man's world, Kiran is a woman who does not rely on the men around her for the power that she wields. The judge faces the brunt of her tenacity and ability to adapt.
The clash between the judge and the policewoman takes a while to gather steam, but once it does it livens up the story significantly. Not that that aren't other elements and figures in Your Honor S2 that do pretty much the same. Gulshan Grover appears as the boss of the Tarn Taran gang, a third flank that Judge Khosla has to reckon with.
In fact, it is the suave slimeball played by Grover - a nightclub owner who runs an empire of crime using his putative primary business as a front - and his cold, calculating partner Yashpreet (Mahie Gill, another addition to the tale) who do more snapping at the judge's well-groomed heels than any of the other antagonists.
The Mudki patriarch Satbir (Mahabir Bhullar) is in the slammer and his first-born Satnam is dead. His younger son, the brooding Harman (Kunj Anand), prone to impulsive action, runs the show and is as much of a thorn in the judge's side as he was the first time around.
The head of the Pandit gang (which was played with aplomb by Yashpal Sharma in S1) is dead and gone. His unscrupulous brother Jagda (Zeishan Quadri) is now in the saddle. He uses Indu Samthar (Richa Pallod), widow of the deceased CRPF man Kashi (Varun Badola, who makes fleeting appearances in scenes taken from episodes of the previous season), as a bargaining chip to keep Judge Khosla on his toes.
In addition, a religious leader, Mahant Adhiban (Anang Desai), hopes to coerce Judge Khosla into delivering a favourable judgement in a land dispute case. The latter has the option of a compromise but he has to cautiously weigh the pros and cons of his judgment. It could end one enmity and reopen another one. It does exactly that. The pace of Your Honor S2 is even. Its twists and turns are spaced out with an eye on maximum impact. It continues to stay true to the spirit of the original series, Kvodo, created by Ron Nino and Shlomo Mashiach, even as it lays emphasis on the cultural nuances of the place that it pans out in.
The accent is yet again on the milieu, which lends Your Honor its unwavering rootedness. The locals-versus-outsiders narrative at the heart of the crossfire that the judge is caught in receives full play and defines the progress of much of the plot. Propelled by Sheirgill and Vashisht, this story of power privilege, morality and the workings of the legal system has crackling, sustained energy. Gulshan Grover, Mahie Gill and Zeishan Quadri deliver noteworthy performances as does Pulkit Makol playing the troubled son.
Your Honor Season 2 is the sort of web series that is easy to recommend - it is riveting all way.