Posted: 06 January 2011 at 6:33am | IP Logged
A filthy-rich spoilt brat guns down a girl in full public view. His high-profile politician father uses all his influential power to subside the legal matter. Witnesses turn hostile in the court. Evidence is tampered. The murderer is acquitted. The petitioners turn helpless victims of the obdurate judicial system.
How many times have you witnessed this story before in Hindi cinema? This plot has been a frequent fodder for masala movies in Bollywood since decades. But what sets Rajkumar Gupta's film way apart from the lot is its real story and realistic treatment.
Based on the Jessica Lall
murder case that made headlines for more than a decade, No One Killed Jessica
, as the disclaimer claims, is part fact and part fiction. While not exactly a docu-drama, the first half of the film has detailed documented events involving the murder and the court trail while the second half is dramatized using a fictional protagonist of a television news reporter who broadly symbolizes the media fraternity that was largely responsible in bringing about a rebellious retrial of the case.
The story opens in April 1999 when Jessica Lall (Myra), who works as a celebrity barmaid in a socialite party, is shot dead by Manu Sharma (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) merely because she refuses to serve him drinks. While Vikram (Neil Bhoopalam) and a few others testify of the murder to police, they retract from their statement in court under pressure. Jessica's sister Sabrina (Vidya Balan) pursues the case for years but after repeated trails Manu is acquitted in February 2006.
Its then that TV news reporter Meera ( Rani Mukherji
), who has covered every big news from Kargil war to Kandahar hijack, decides to revive the Jessica case. Having already dismissed the same news peg earlier assuming it to be an open-and-shut case, Meera strongly feels that justice has been denied. Through constant SMS activism, candlelight march and many more of such public uproar, the case is reopened and Manu Sharma is convicted and imprisoned for life.
Interestingly other than the Lall family, every other character name in the film is fictitious though their characterizations are clearly modeled on the real-life personalities connected with the case. While on a broader perspective, the plotline might appear regular, what makes the viewer relate to the story strongly is the fact that almost the entire proceedings in the film transpired in real life. Despite having firsthand witness and evidence, the vulnerability of the Lall family (and, in general, the common man of the country) in front of the more powerful bureaucrats is remarkably portrayed. The entire shooting episode and its upshot leading to the courtroom drama is re-enacted in such detail that you literally feel the ongoing tension in the psyche of both the protagonist and antagonist. Rajkumar Gupta
keeps the scenes short in length and several in number. He makes effective use of frequent montage sequences which are imaginative and facilitate smooth succession of time period in the story. A preoccupied Sabrina walking on street is so lost in her continual cerebral chaos that she can't see an approaching elephant. Another scene showing a 'men at work' placard suggests how the bureaucrats are breaking witnesses and forging evidence. Subtle, symbolic and skilful! The one-scene interaction when Manu Sharma's parents meet Jessica's parents at their residence is kept cold, passive and barely descriptive. Since the screenplay is mostly a reconstruction of real-life event, scope for melodrama is ruled out.
On the flipside, the pace drops intermittently and the length seems somewhat long. Rani's sudden inclination to reopen the Jessica case seems too idealistic. So is the soul of the film in the second half where rebellion is triggered through candlelight marches and national upheaval! But then this was an ideal case which literally changed the course of law in the country and reinstated faith in countrymen. Also the producers (UTV) very smartly plug in their earlier film Rang De Basanti in the narrative which actually acted as a catalyst in sparking off activism in the Jessica case. The single confrontation scene between Rani and Vidya towards the climax appears too mechanical.
Technically, the film boasts of a sharp soundtrack and seething background score composed by Amit Trivedi. Anay Goswami's cinematography is competent and the extreme close-up shots in the courtroom sequences have a disturbing effect. The dialogues are acidic, effective and straight slice of life.
The performances are commendable and even character actors who perform for a single scene come up with inspiring acts. Vidya Balan
is brilliant in the role of Sabrina, splendidly symbolizing a common citizen's fight for justice. She is the soul of the film. Rani's character being fictional and glamourized seems superficial to an extent but she packs in the punch required for her dynamic character. After playing comic characters in Khosla Ka Ghosla and Ishqiya , Rajesh Sharma is noteworthy in his first serious role as the inspector in charge of the case. Neil Bhoopalam
as the prime witness who turns hostile puts in a confident act. Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub
bears a close resemblance to Manu Sharma and portrays his character with conviction.
Rajkumar Gupta shows absolute conviction in bringing to life one of the most significant murder-case convictions in the history of India
. No one miss this cinema! http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/bollywood/news-interviews/No-One-Killed-Jessica-Movie-Review/articleshow/7229288.cms