In 1996, I lost a case in the consumers’ court at Sirohi (Rajasthan) when everything of the case (including the truth) was on my side. Then I realized the difference between thoughts and reality. Getting justice is a Herculean task in our country for a commoner when the judges, the lawyers and who not, are partisan and sold out. My pain was a smaller one, yet I am able to empathize with the much bigger pain of Sabrina Lall whose sister Jessica was shot dead in a pub in 1999 when she refused to serve drink to the son of a powerful man and she did not get justice for years.
Justice delayed is justice denied. In our country, justice is delayed only to deny it. When the people at all levels and in all avenues have sold their souls to the devil, who can buy justice for the poor, the helpless and the ordinary ? While reviewing No One Killed Jessica (2011), I will not elaborate the story of this movie which is based on the real life incident of Jessica Lall murder case. The moviemaker has quite diplomatically displayed a disclaimer that all the scenes of this movie should not be taken as similar to the real life ones (he too must be scared of the powerful ones involved in this case). The moviemaker asserts in that disclaimer that this movie is a mix of facts and fiction. Let me clarify that his statement is correct with the demarcation of facts and fiction into the two halves of the movie.
The first half is perfectly based on facts and that’s why very impressive. The pain and helplessness of Jessica’s family members is heart-tearing for any viewer. The rot in the system alongwith the commoner finally bowing before the might of the money and the muscle has been portrayed quite realistically. I was spellbound while going through the pre-interval session which clearly establishes that a sizable chunk of our countrymen (both the educated ones and otherwise) can be put into two major categories – the cowards and the greedy. And also that the people going for perjury are not at all scared to do that.
The post-interval part is nothing but fiction and that too shown with superficiality which is not at all impressive. It is shown that the media is all powerful in our country now. True but at the same time, the media itself is selfish and hungry for TRPs and SMSes. The so-called committed mediapersons pay attention to any issue only for the sake of their careers and the name and the fame (if not money) and not for the sake of ensuring justice to any victim. It’s clearly evident from the character of the foul-mouthed journalist, Rani Mukherjee. Why does the media get active only when the victim has been denied justice ? Why not earlier ? Only to extract the maximum benefit out of the victim’s grief and atrocity, isn’t it ? The media starts making a (motivated) noise in favour of justice when the tears of the victimizeds are dried up.
The moviemaker has quite superfluously shown the PM and the President (then) from behind and tried to infuse an element of reality in the post-interval drama which does not click at all. The over-enthusiastic journalist seems to be obsessed with the syndrome of oneupmanship and she does not seem to realize a penny of the pain the deceased’s sister and her parents have undergone. While talking to Sabrina Lall, she shows off as if by raising up this issue again, she is obliging the dead victim and her family.
I am strictly against the use of expletives as I had mentioned in my review of Lamhaa (2010) too. Does reality mean foul-mouthing only ? This movie is one step forward in the way it shows (well-educated) females using the expletives. What purpose does it serve ? Only the moviemaker can tell.
The director and the cinematographer have portrayed the reality of Delhi with perfection. Yes, Delhi is like that only. But I feel that the same culture and the same attitude have spread to almost all the cities, like a contagious disease. Music and technical aspects of this movie are ok. Performance wise talking, only two characters are unnatural – the defense lawyer (over the top) and the accused’s mother (ridiculous). Rest all have done admirably well. The stand out performances have come from the actors performing Jessica’s parents. Their display of the painstruck, helpless and desperate parents of the deceased is heart-moving. The tallest performance has been of Vidya Balan who has displayed through her body language; the grief, the anguish and the frustration of Sabrina Lall with utmost reality.
This movie was said to be the comeback movie of Rani Mukherjee before its release. However I doubt if this movie brought any benefit to her in any manner. Not only her age is clearly visible on her face, she is overweight too and the flawed character developed for her does not seem to do her any favour. She has performed well though. Years back, in Bichchhoo (2000) she had played a swearing lady. Now she has done the same thing again but to no benefit to her career.
Given the meaty real life plot, No One Killed Jessica could have been a great movie but courtesy the deficiencies on the part of the writer and the director, it has been reduced to a regular Bollywood potboiler with a hurried and impactless climax.
Still I recommend this movie to one and all because doing something is always better than doing nothing. At least, the effort to make a movie on this plot should be lauded. In our country, injustice is the most common phenomena. When this movie was released, the case of Rupam Pathak had become a headline news who, after suffering the trauma of rape by an MLA from Bihar for many years, had finally stabbed him to death. Despite being the victim herself, she got beaten, arrested, tried and ultimately sentenced for life by a CBI court. Is she likely to ever get justice from our legal system ? Perhaps not.
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