No One Killed Jessica: A Review
No One Killed Jessica, based on the much talked about Jessica Lall murder case stars Rani Mukherjee, Vidya Balan, new comer Myra Karn and a host of other actors in various supporting roles. Rajkumar Gupta’s latest brings back into the limelight, a case which captured the fancies of the media and the nation at large for a number of years.
Set in Delhi (reminded ad nauseum during the movie through an oft-repeated background score), the movie opens with the infamous event of bar tender Jessica Lall (Myra) getting shot by high profile politician’s son Manish Bharadwaj. Sabrina Lall (Vidya Balan) sets out to seek justice for her sister, only to be stalled in her efforts by powerful politicians, hostile witnesses and corrupt police officers. She is soon joined in her quest by hotshot, foul-mouth journalist Meera Gaity (Rani Mukherjee) and together they manage to arouse public outrage to the point where the administration gives in and justice is finally delivered.
The movie, for all the interest evoked by the storyline, is a disappointment. While the initial half an hour is racy and crisp, the film quickly takes on an overtly melodramatic and loud tone which continues right through to the end. The direction seems confused. Rajkumar Gupta desperately attempts to inject comedy into the narration of an event which of all things isn’t funny. The thrice repeated scene of Manish Bharadwaj’s mother whining “Mere Monu ko kuch nahi hona chahiye (Nothing should happen to my son (Monu)” is both unfunny and unwanted. The juvenile treatment of the subject in question is exemplified through scenes like a grieving father sending an SMS to a TV channel and a stupefied sister exclaiming that the biggest tragedy in her life is that she doesn’t have a boyfriend. Sabrina’s character, for all its complexity, is dealt with only superficially. The principal focus of the narrative seems to be on the Barkha Dutt inspired character of Meera Gaity. Rani Mukherjee, in what seemed to be another attempt at an image makeover to save her dying career plays the no-nonsense television journalist. She proclaims to be to be too busy to have a boyfriend and later deserts her partner in the middle of an intimate act to attend to work. The committed workaholic show is childishly overblown with frequent interjections of four letter words as an apparent display of ruthlessness. It’s difficult to decide whether to blame the dialogues or the actor for the colossal disaster that the role of Meera is. While one can give credit to Rani Muherjee for making an honest attempt to look the part, the dialogues fall flat.
There are a few silver linings to be salvaged. The music and background score by Amit Trivedi is delightful. Vidya Balan’s performance in the role of the stolid, grieving sister is hugely commendable. So are performances of Sareesh Sharma who plays the father of Manish Bharadwaj and seasoned actor Rajesh Sharma in the role of Police Inspector N.K. Debutante Myra Karn’s presence on screen is refreshing. The camera work for most parts is quite brilliant.
A film like No One Killed Jessica begs the larger question about how far our directors are willing to sell out to the lure of commercial success. The superficial treatment of an issue which could have been subjected to a richer and much more serious on-screen portrayal shows how commercial Indian movie-makers still choose box office brownie points over honest story-telling. It should be acknowledged that a lot of Indian films in the recent past have chosen to go against this prevalent trend. We can only hope the imminent commercial success of No One Killed Jessica does not change that.
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