Guilty Minds (Season 1) Review, Recap & Ending Explained: Courtroom dramas are a tricky subject because they’re dialogue-heavy, character-driven, and rely on strongly swaying the audience’s moral compass. Courtroom dramas in India are particularly tricky because, like every other movie that has real-life parallels, they lead to political outrage and attacks. You don’t have to look too far for an example. The 2021 film Jai Bhim, starring Surya and directed by T. J. Gnanavel is right there. It managed to irk the people who were the target of the movie’s messaging so much that the cast and crew needed police protection. And the audience needed some protection from brain damage because they couldn’t wrap their heads over the irony of this whole controversy. That said, while Jai Bhim was explicit with its real-life references, Guilty Minds treads comparatively stealthily and has a similar impact in terms of commenting on the state of India’s sense of justice.
Guilty Minds (Season 1) Spoiler-Free Review:
Written and directed by Shefali Bhushan, co-directed and co-written by Jayant Digambar Somalkar, along with co-writers, Manav Bhushan and Deekhsha Gujral, Guilty Minds largely follows two budding lawyers Kashaf Quaze (Shriya Pilgaonkar) and Deepak Rana (Varun Mitra). They are old friends but work in different firms with opposing ideologies. Although this leads to fiery courtroom arguments, they manage to look beyond their differences over a few drinks. Every episode deals with a singular, self-contained case, while a larger case involving Kashaf’s father Justice Quaze (Benjamin Gilani), and liquor baron Tejinder Bhalla (Satish Kaushik) unfolds. And through the ups and downs of these cases, Shefali and Jayant manage to not only dissect the judiciary of India, but also the smaller cogs that make the wheel turn.
Nowadays, every trailer is cut in a way to give off the feeling that the show is going to be extremely fast-paced and action-packed, which leads to unrealistic expectations. So, please consider this review as a request to manage said expectations because Guilty Minds isn’t anywhere close to being as “exciting” as its trailer makes it out to be. Instead, the show is what we call a slow burn with strategically placed bursts of energy. Shefali, Jyant, Manav, Deekhsha, and editor Navnita Sen, give their characters stretched-out moments of contemplation to establish the notion that they are human. They are more than the jargon-heavy dialogues they are spewing and more than the morals and ethics of their clients that they’re siding with, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes by force.
If you’re looking closely, the politics of Guilty Minds is very evident. It makes a mockery of a politician, aptly named Vishwambar (Virendra Saxena) who allows the selling of liquor under the guise of a liquor ban while cameo-ing in a B-grade Bollywood movie about “patriotism”. Its protagonist is a Muslim lawyer whose worldview is challenged due to her father’s involvement in a scam. Her friend and colleague, Vandana (Sugandha Garg) is proudly gay and lives with her partner, Sunanda (Chitrangada Satarupa). And the showrunners sympathize with Kashaf’s idealism and humanitarianism instead of Deepak’s money-first-truth-later ideology, which is in stark contrast with the real-life prioritization of Indian politics’ anti-human “Chanakya neeti”. But all of it is concealed under layers and layers of tepidity that often works in the show’s favor.
Talking about the editing, Sen frequently intercuts between narrations and the characters carrying out the things being narrated in real-time. It creates a sense of mystery and intrigue as you sit in anticipation to see whether the plan is going to be executed as meticulously as it’s being explained verbally. But the overall editing falters when it comes to cutting out awkward pauses at the end of conversations and cutting out entire conversations that do not progress a character or the story. Or even if it does, it’s weirdly placed between two scenes which would’ve flowed smoothly if said weirdly placed scene is moved up or down chronologically. The production design and costume design are immaculate. Siddharth Srinivasan’s muted cinematography doesn’t do much to accentuate it but the details in the sets and the intricacies of what a character’s costume says about them are still conveyed properly.
The acting department knocks it out of the park. Shriya Pilgaonkar proves yet again that she’s one of the most dependable actors in the OTT space (somebody gets her in a feature-length movie if she wants to). The way she tackles her trepidations about her closed ones to how she carries herself in the court is fascinating to watch. Varun Mitra plays every conniving and over-smart shade of Deepak Rana like a boss. He exudes so much charm that it makes you wonder why he isn’t a decent human being. Sugandha Garg as Kashaf’s biggest support has a very aura of reliability around her and her chemistry with Chitrangada is adorable. The veterans, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Satish Kaushik, Benjamin Gilani, and Virendra Saxena are, of course, amazing. Their dedication to their craft is truly inspiring. As for the newer faces, Deepak Kalra, Namrata Sheth, Pranay Pachauri, and Niya Kumar leave a mark. But that doesn’t mean the rest don’t. Every actor in the supporting cast deserves a round of applause for nailing it via their performances.
Special mention for the opening titles which is a work of genius. Hats off to the designers and the song constructed around it.
Spoiler warning: This article contains major spoilers for Guilty Minds Season 1.
Guilty Minds (Season 1) Recap:
The first episode is centered around actress Mala Kumari (Karishma Tanna) who hears about another actress named Chanchal’s (Yannea Bharadwaj) #MeToo story where she accused director Divendu Khurana of sexual assault. Seeing her cast and crew mock Chanchal for outing Divendu, who’s largely revered as a reputable man, Mala reveals the fact that Divendu has raped her too. That’s when we cut to Kashaf and Deepak delaying the case of Tejinder Bhalla by saying that there’s some political conspiracy against their client, which is why a 14-year-old case is being resurrected. As they exit after the notice is issued, the ideologies of Kashaf and Deepak are revealed as Kashaf receives “shukrana” for a case she fought for while Deepak laments and groans around.
While enjoying their evening drink at Tejinder’s Bhalla’s son, Kitu’s (Deepak Kalra) bar, they come to know that Divendu has been arrested. Deepak takes up the case of defending Divendu, even though L.N. Khanna’s (Kulbhushan Kharbanda) Khanna Khanna & Associates is synonymous with not taking up rape cases. Deepak tells Divendu to hire a female lawyer because Kashaf is fighting for Mala. Hence, it’ll be better for optics. Mala describes the ordeal she went through with Divendu to Kashaf and Vandana, while Divendu complains about his “reputation” to Deepak. As suggested by Deepak, Neela (Suchitra Krishnamoorthi) steps in to fight for Divendu and she consistently defends him. When things don’t go in Kashaf’s favor, she sends Vandana to amass vocal supporters of Mala and even that goes horribly. That said, all this plants a seed of doubt in Divendu’s wife’s mind. But Divendu isn’t accused of rape, but finds him guilty under Section 376c of the IPC and sends him to just 5 years of imprisonment.
A weird thing happens after that, later that night, a drunk Deepak plants a non-consensual kiss on Kashaf while she’s making some good points about the abuse of power. Anyway, episode 2 deals with a kid named Prateek (Meet Vohra) being manipulated by a virtual-reality video game to kill a taxi driver. Kashaf takes Prateek’s side as she believes that the video game is at fault, not Prateek. Bhandari (Girish Kulkarni) fights to accuse Prateek of murder and his argument is inadvertently (or advertently) aided by the fact that Prateek himself thinks that he should be sent to jail. In Khanna Khanna & Associates side of things, Shubhrat (Pranay Pachauri) and sister Shubhangi (Namrata Sheth) argue over the fact that she has been put in Deepak’s team to learn the ropes.
Kashaf and Vandana search for every possible angle to ensure that Prateek isn’t at fault. And they basically zero in on two things: the violence in the game that Prateek was playing and the stimulus that was being sent to his brain via the VR goggles he was wearing while killing the taxi driver. Given how all this is uncharted waters and hence inexplicable, Bhandari keeps scoring points while Kashaf struggles to prove Prateek’s innocence. Post a date/truce, Kashaf and Deepak return to their respective cases, with Deepak having a sit-down with Tejinder who tells Deepak to use his relationship with Justice Quaze’s daughter to manipulate him in Tejinder’s favor. In Prateek’s case, Bhandari successfully proves Prateek had a guilty mind and the court serves the kid with life imprisonment while telling the authorities to keep track of such violent games.
During another hearing of Tejinder Bhalla’s case, an SMS under the name of Scamtrails goes viral, accusing Justice Quaze of covering someone’s dirty tracks. This takes us into the third case which revolves around the water shortage in Adegaon, Maharashtra, where the villagers accuse Taisty Cola for drying up the land after one of their own dies in a shallow well and another gets shot while protesting. Predictably, Deepak and Shubhangi go to fight for Taisty Cola while Kashaf and Vandana battle for the villagers. Before departing for Jalna District Court, the Quazes talk about finding the source of the aforementioned SMS and Deepak hires PI Parvati (Sukhita Aiyar) to track down the CD that has the recording of Justice Quaze talking about burying a case.
The Taisty Cola case takes a multitude of twists and turns but eventually, Vandana and Kashaf manage to do an inspection of the plant where they find out that the company is actually drawing an illegal amount of water, which is allegedly drying up the land. Vandana and Kashaf’s perspective is also altered a little bit when they find out from a drunkard who attacks them. He says that if the company is shut down, the village is going to be deprived of healthcare and education, two things that are in place due to Taisty Cola. At the court, Deepak rants about global warming and whatnot, but he finds his winning point when he concedes that Taisty Cola is guilty of illegally drawing water, for which the company is ready to pay a penalty. And then says that it’ll be unfair to the villagers who are employees of Taisty Cola and the village itself which is benefiting from Taisty Cola’s existence via healthcare and education.
In the concluding moments of Episode 3, Taisty Cola is forced to reduce its consumption of water and the Kashaf’s side is requested to monitor the company in the off chance they repeat their offenses. It’s revealed that Deepak and Shubhangi hooked up amidst all this. And we also find out that Shubhrat has stolen the CD with Justice Quaze’s recording in it (that Parvati had brought for Deepak) and plans to give it to his fiance and journalist Ria (Diksha Juneja) so that it can be broadcast in front of the whole nation. Episode 4 revolves around Lata Jha (Niya Kumar) and her removal from the IVF company she founded, Spermaa, on the pretext of her unprofessional behavior. Kashaf and Vandana fight for Lata while Deepak goes to his hometown as his mother has been repeatedly calling him to get married. Ravish (Saanand Verma) fights for Spermaa.
As per usual, Ravish resorts to mudslinging and character assassination while Kashaf sticks to her facts. At his hometown, Deepak sees that the alleged recording of the conversation between Justice Quaze and Investigation Bureau Director, Mr. Srinivasan is being aired by Ria. Kashaf accuses Deepak of leaking the CD to Ria but Deepak denies it all. But then he goes up to Ria and Shubhrat to threaten them and warn them that if Shubhrat repeats this, he is going to break his leg. Hassan (Dinker Sharma) reassures that Justice Quaze is being framed and Kashaf confirms it from a video/audio editor that the recording is a work of forgery and not an actual recording. After learning about Lata’s pregnancy, Kashaf and Vandana come to the conclusion that Spermaa doesn’t hire married women to avoid giving them maternity leaves. An ugly quarrel between CEO Raghu Swaminathan (R. Badree) and Lata proves that theory and Lata get reinstated as one of the founding members.
Episode 5 revolves around the song programming software called Aalap, which samples bits and pieces of music from everywhere and creates an “original” song. The makers of the songs that have been sampled sues the maker of Aalap and asks for compensation and the takedown of the “original” song. Deepak decides to fight for Aalap. Justice Quaze reveals to Hassan that he is indeed guilty of covering up Hassan’s scam even though the CD has been proven to be a fake. Kashaf, who isn’t privy to that knowledge, heads over to Mumbai with Deepak to fight against Aalap and for the song composers suing it. Vandana takes a break for courtroom dramatics to give Sunanda company while she fends off her conservative mother. The Aalap case goes back and forth and back and forth between Deepak trying to prove that the cut-and-paste is original enough and Kashaf trying to prove that a cut-and-paste cannot be original. The court sides with Kashaf, the song is taken down and the composers are compensated.
On the character drama side of things, episode 5 ends on two notes. Shubhrat and Ria find out startling revelations about the Bhalla murder case, and Deepak and Kashaf’s celebratory party leads to an intimate moment that makes Kashaf uncomfortable for some reason. And while Kashaf and Deepak’s bond hangs in the balance, Episode 6 dives headfirst into the future of self-driving cars where the company that builds them, Ehno, has been accused of killing a taxi driver and hurting a pedestrian. Deepak assigns Shubhangi to represent Khanna Khanna & Associates and fight for Ehno. This irks Abhijeet (Akshay Baghel) and he spreads the rumor that Deepak has been cheating on Shubhangi to unsettle her. That does create a rift in Shubhangi and Deepak’s relationship but it doesn’t stop her from proving Ehno isn’t at fault. In fact, the self-driving car tried its best to avoid an accident and it’s the deceased taxi driver who made an error, leading to the collision.
Ria travels all the way to Himachal to dig into the Bhalla murder case. The elders try to prevent Ria from going any further. Ria doesn’t stop though and after she learns about the death of an inspector, she goes all the way to the local police station to unearth any information available on the matter. Ria’s actions are conveyed to Tejinder who in turn asks Deepak if he’s sabotaging the murder case he’s involved in via Ria. Deepak assures Tejinder that he doesn’t know anything about Ria’s actions. In Episode 7, the alleged suicide of Deepwater Security’s PSA Kochar (Abhinav Sharma) takes center stage. L.N. Khanna himself heads that case for Deepwater because Deepak backs out of it as he doesn’t want to prove or disprove Kochar’s actions as he was a friend of Deepak’s brother-in-law. So he asks Kashaf to fight for PSA Kochar because he believes that she will ensure that Kochar and his wife get some semblance of justice.
Ria goes several levels deeper into the Bhalla murder case by finding out about Vishwambar (Virendra Saxena), his liquor ban, Bhalla’s liquor business, and how it potentially ties up to the death of a police officer and the 15-year-old Chintan (Nitin). In the Deepwater Security case, despite L.N. Khanna’s fiery defense, Kashaf manages to find out that Kochar was probably killed for being on the brink of exposing a company secret that involved the deaths of migrant workers. But the court suspects that that evidence has been fabricated and doesn’t accept the writ-petition thereby preventing a bureau investigation into Deepwater Security. In Episode 7’s concluding moments, Shubhrat finds out that Deepak is the one who gave Kashaf the case to fight against L.N. Khanna, thereby attempting to sabotage L.N. Khanna’s position in the court.
Episode 8 takes on another case of IVF where a “damaged” embryo led to a couple having a kid with muscular dystrophy. This case actually never reaches the court (with the help of Lata Jha) and is solved in the mediation phase as the company giving out said embryos admits that they were knowingly giving out male embryos which have a higher risk of resulting in a kid with diseases. But from this point onwards, Guilty Minds begins to deal with the personal stories more. For example, Shubhrat plans to expose Deepak. Sunanda admits to her mother that she’s gay and in a relationship with Vandana. Deepak goes back to his hometown to find someone who knows what happened on the day Chintan was murdered and how Bhalla is actually connected to it, while coming to terms with the fact that he’s probably betraying his friendship with Chintan by defending Bhalla. And Kashaf exposes Shameen’s (Harsh Singh) for being a child molester.
Vishwambar finally enters the picture in-person (there’s a cameo by co-director Jayant here) as he pushes Tejinder to find out Justice Quaze’s weaknesses so that their case can be shut down for good. Simultaneously (well, probably not exactly simultaneously), Deepak finds out from Parvati that Hassan bought a lot of shopping mall space after learning about the judgment Justice Quaze was going to deliver beforehand. Justice Quaze’s order sealed all the shops in the vicinity, thereby shooting up their prices by 500%. Although Episode 9 is about Shubhangi fighting a case for her friends who have been duped by a dating app, its focus remains on usurping Deepak’s position in the firm. Things start to go downhill for Justice Quaze as he gets a threat letter which prompts him to tell the truth about Hassan to everyone. Since Justice Quaze suspects that the threat has come from Bhalla, he conveys this to Kashaf so that she conveys the same to Deepak who’s handling the Bhalla case. When Kashaf confronts Deepak, she finds out the truth about Hassan and Justice Quaze’s involvement in burying it.
Related to Guilty Minds (Season 1) – Outer Range (Season 1) Episodes 3, 4: Recap & Ending Explained
Guilty Minds (Season 1) Ending Explained (And Will There Be A Season 2?):
The final episode of Guilty Minds opens with a glimpse of a kid drowning, alluding to Chintan’s death. Then we cut back to the present where a distressed Kashaf is puking on the side of a highway after learning about her father Munnawar and her brother Hassan’s joint involvement in the shopping mall scam. At Kitu’s bar, Deepak confronts Kitu since he thinks that his father Tejinder is the one who had sent Munnawar the threat letter. Kashaf, as per usual, goes to Vandana’s home. But this time, she asks if she can stay there for a few days. Vandana tells her that of course she can.
At the Khanna Khanna & Associates office, L.N. Khanna confronts Deepak about whether he backstabbed him in the Deepwater Security case. Deepak denies the allegation and says he wasn’t helping Kashaf. It was actually the other way around. Deepak admits that he was the one who took the case to Kashaf that was brought to him by his brother-in-law (who was a friend of the deceased, PSA Kochar). Deepak couldn’t take it up because it would’ve been a conflict-of-interest for the firm. L.N. asks Deepak again whether he helped Kashaf. Deepak reiterates that he never peddled any information from L.N. to Kashaf. He only chased the truth and he still thinks Kochar’s death deserves a bureau investigation, something that only L.N. could’ve assured if he wasn’t adamant about proving that Kochar died of suicide. That said, Deepak says that if L.N. thinks that he’s in the wrong, he’s open to a vote, which if he loses, he’ll resign from the firm.
At the Quaze household, Kashaf is spotted packing her bags for good by her mother Mumtaz. Munnawar enters shortly after and asks if she’s angry with him. Kashaf says that Munnawar and the rest of the household has let her down. Because she spent so much time proving that the CD alleging Munnawar’s dishonesty is fake, whereas the truth is that Munnawar apparently did help out Hassan in a scam. Kashaf expresses that she is going through a total identity crisis because all her principles are based on Munnawar’s body of work and she feels that said body of work is hollow. And that’s why she needs to put some distance between herself and her family so that she can find her footing again, personally and professionally.
Deepak comes across Shubhangi in a lift. Shubhangi laments that Deepak could’ve given the Deepwater Security to anyone but Kashaf. Deepak defends his decision by saying that Kashaf and Vandana have a habit of getting personally involved in the case, and that he felt they were qualified to handle it. Later on, Deepak gets a call about Ratan Badra. Based on that information, he reaches Mumbai and goes on a long-winded manhunt through the city’s streets, offices, and slums to get to Ratan.When the day is about to end, Deepak manages to locate Ratan and talk to him about the details of Chintan’s death. Ratan starts talking about the fateful day and before we get to hear the rest of the story, the narrative cuts to Deepak at Vandana’s home tinkering with the idea of withdrawing himself from the case.
Vandana assures that there’s nothing to worry about because Justice Quaze can’t consider any new evidence at the Supreme Court. But if he thinks that the evidence wasn’t collected properly, he is going to send the case back to trial court for its re-appreciation. Deepak says that he can’t leave things to chance. Vandana tells him to continue defending Bhalla while slipping some semblance of doubt into Justice Quaze’s mind so that he goes with the aforementioned decision. Deepak resorts to taking Ria’s help and convincing her to interview Ratan and make him narrate the story on Prime Time. That said, Ratan refuses to do the interview because he thinks it’ll jeopardize his life. Deepak says that if the court acquits Bhalla, then Chintan is never going to get justice.
Tejinder Bhalla, Kitu, and Vishwambar Chauhan listen to a report from Ria where she says that the very existence of Bhalla’s liquor industries depends on the hearing that’ll be headed by Justice Munnawar. As Tejinder throws a hissy fit, Vishwambar tells him that anger leads to delusion and delusion makes the mind restless. He adds that when the mind is restless, a person loses their power to reason. And when the ability to reason is lost, that’s when their downfall begins. On that note, Vishwambar assures that he’s going to anger the people who are after them. But that doesn’t stop Tejinder from setting up a meeting with Deepak and talking about the magnitude of the punishment in his case. Tejinder laments that while a lot of corrupt businessmen have fled the country, he has stood his ground. He alleges that even though there are many who want to see him lose, he isn’t going to.
We see a brief altercation between Shubhangi and Shubhrat about her relationship with Deepak and Shubhangi refutes his allegations by saying that she and Deepak are friends. Additionally, the Quazes’ family dog is found dead and another threat letter falls in Justice Quaze’s lap telling him to decide how he’s going to go about the Bhalla case. Antara promptly meets Kashaf to talk about the dog’s death, Shameen’s perversion, and Hassan’s case, and asks her to come back home.
That’s followed by Deepak’s trial, which Deepak ends up winning due to L.N. Khanna’s deciding vote, thereby allowing him to stay in the firm. Deepak pays Shubhangi a visit to thank her for voting in his favor. Shubhangi asks if they can go for the treat/date that’s due ever since she became a partner of the firm, and Deepak says “yes”. Ria gets the approval to do the interview with Ritam (Director Shefali Bhushan cameos as Ria’s boss here). Shubhrat and Shubhangi have an awkward elevator ride which indicates their final falling out.
Ria Singh’s interview with Ratan goes on air the night before Justice Quaze’s official decision on Bhalla’s case. And Ratan starts talking about the fateful day from his childhood when he and Chintan went to Kitu’s house to play with him. Since Kitu wasn’t there, they started leaving and that’s when they heard someone shouting at the top of their voice. When Ratan (Kapil) and Chintan peeked into the Bhallas’ house, they saw Bhalla and Vishwambar reprimanding a police inspector for trying to impose the liquor ban that Vishwambar himself had announced. The police inspector refused to pretend that the liquor ban was a front for Bhalla’s business or take any bribes from Bhalla as well. That angered Vishwambar enough to shoot the inspector in the back. When the inspector’s body dropped, Ratan ducked away from Bhalla and Vishwambar’s sight but Chintan couldn’t move out of shock. That made Chintan the primary target and they chased the kid into a river and left him to drown.
Ratan went back to his parents and they even went to the police to file a case against Bhalla and Vishwambar. But Bhalla falsely accused Ratan’s father of bootlegging liquor and got him jailed. And he threatened to kill Ratan and his mother if they ever revealed anything about Chintan’s death to the public. Ratan’s father became a victim of police brutality and Ratan and his mother managed to flee to Mumbai. Based on this information, Justice Quaze’s remands the matter of Bhalla to the trial court for further investigation and re-appreciation of evidence (just like Vandana predicted).
During the final moments of the first season of Guilty Minds, Deepak and Kashaf share an intimate moment after fighting their personal demons, while keeping their professional ones at bay (at least momentarily). But Deepak thinks that before going any further with this, he should admit that he’s the one who leaked the rumor about Justice Quaze’s involvement in the shopping mall scam. Visibly upset and betrayed (yet again), Kashaf leaves the house and drives into the distance while Shubhangi is seen waiting for Deepak in an empty restaurant.
Now, whether or not there’s going to be a Guilty Minds Season 2 is completely up to the creators and Prime Video. However, if you look at the evidence, there’s enough material to tackle in a second season. They have already established the structure of the show, i.e. one self-contained case per episode and one overarching case that’s woven throughout the series. With the Bhalla case being sent for re-appreciation of details, it can be the main case of Season 2 again. And as for the singular cases with parallels to real-life issues, there’s a litany of topics to choose from. In addition to all that, the arcs of Kashaf, Vandana, Tejinder Bhalla, Kitu Bhalla, Deepak, and Shubhangi, etc. are inconclusive, especially the love triangle between Kashaf, Deepak, and Shubhangi as well as their strained familial ties. So, Season 2 can look into that to add some spice to the analytical courtroom drama.
Guilty Minds (Season 1) is now streaming on Prime Video
Guilty Minds Links – IMDb
Guilty Minds Cast – Shriya Pilgaonkar, Varun Mitra, Namrata Sheth, Sugandha Garg, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Satish Kaushik, Benjamin Gilani, Pranay Pachauri, Diksha Juneja