13 February 2011 | Peter_Young
Justice was denied, justice shall prevail
Raj Kumar Gupta's No One Killed Jessica is based on the true story of the murder of model Jessica Lal. The movie does not work as a docudrama but more as a dramatic thriller which is effectively fictionalised in large portions to tell a story. The story may be based on a real-life event, but it never depends on it. It does not chronicle in any way the entire case with all its real-life elements. The story is real, but many cinematic ingredients are added to make it more alluring. Rarely do pictures of this sort get made in India, sadly, while in foreign countries, this has already become a well-known movie formula. No One Killed Jessica centres around two characters: Sabrina Lal, the quiet sister of the late Jessica, and Meera Gaity, a foul-mouthed hot-blooded journalist. Both women seek justice which does not seem to be coming because the murderer is none other than the son of an influential politician.
It's a funny paradox that many times people use to laugh at the fact that politicians and other powerful figures are presented as corrupt and hypocrites in Indian movies, calling it stereotypical. And here the law is dumber than ever, and the funny thing is that it's actually the truth. A woman was brutally murdered and it takes many years until justice actually prevails. This aspect of the film is very well portrayed, and well, the courtroom scenes are just fascinating. No One Killed Jessica is a fast-paced feature which tries to work more on the emotional level. It does not excruciate the audience by following the never-ending case in minute detail, and perhaps that's where it scores the most. The movie may be a bit unsettling but at the same time it is inspiring to see how a majority of ordinary citizens take the power to their hands by just uniting and fighting against injustice together.
While watching Rani Mukherjee's strong-minded and assertive journalist Meera, her lawyer Saamiya Siddiqui from Veer-Zaara often comes to the mind, although the characters are different. She evidently enjoys playing her part, but at the same time suffers from it. I don't know if she was the prefect choice for it, frankly. Her line delivery is not that of a news presenter, and she is endlessly given an opportunity to curse, swear and insult her colleagues. Now that's not a strong character make, and at times it looks like the otherwise graceful lady is terribly miscast. Having said that and barring the fact that something is missing in this performance, Rani is still pretty good. Some of her fans may be surprised because her role is not that lengthy, and maybe that's why the director tries to make it so bold, but the actress does occasionally manage to rise above these poor attempts by honestly portraying Meera's feisty nature, her tough outside, and her soft inside.
And without the slightest of doubt, it is Vidya Balan who owns the film with her sincere and heartfelt act. Balan looks impossibly authentic in the role and skillfully captures the essence of Sabrina. Although the film does not always portray her character in a positive light, Balan wins it over by creating a simple and understated portrait of anguish, despair and courage. The film's music is so-so, with some songs, like that energetic "Dilli" song, being really fun and enjoyable and others just dragging the narrative to no end. All said and done, No One Killed Jessica is definitely not without its flaws but is still an interesting and entertaining picture. It does not always ring true, and some aspects of it are overdone, the character of Meera being the prime example. The ending in particular turns into an emotional ride which leans more on drama rather than on an actual and deep message, but in the end, it just grows on you and ultimately leaves a mark.