28 August 2011 | Chrysanthepop
The Mystery of Monica
It's good to see that Bollywood is making more interesting films that are inspired by real life people and incidents. 2011 started with 'No One Killed Jessica' based on the murder of model Jessica Lal and now Sushen Bhatnagar offers 'Monica' which is loosely based on the murder of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar. The film is a fusion of a courtroom drama - political thriller. While the mix itself is good the narrative structure is confusing at times mostly due to the patchy editing and the rapid shift back and forth in time. The pacing is also slow at times.
Some of the dialogues (especially in the courtroom sequences) appear silly while some are very well written, especially prosecutor Mathur's final explanation of how the industrialist, the politician and the chief editor took advantage of Monica. I also liked how Bhatnagar has attempted to portray his main characters are humans rather than cold blooded evil beings or saints even though some characters could have been better developed.
The execution is mostly modest. Less use of adds to the gloomy feel of 'Monica'. The sound effects are at fault here mostly because there is no background sound at all (where there should be) or it's too obviously filtered and at times, the voices of the actors sounds obviously recorded.
'Monica' is Divya Dutta's film. This is one of those rare times that she gets a lead role that does full justice to her abilities and she is stupendous. Ashutosh Rana too does well as he subtly plays the calculating politician. Kitu Gidwani and Yashpal Sharma are very effective respectively as the lesbian industrialist and the fiery prosecutor.
This isn't an easy film to watch. The most unsettling sequence is the rape that takes place near the end. The scene isn't graphic but the protagonist's despair, hopelessness and helplessness that bring her completely under the control of this filth of society who has always lusted after her (and been rejected) and now seeks his opportunity and yet does not keep his word.
With some tightness in editing and writing (which is very important for this kind of film), 'Monica' could have overcome its flaws. Yet, it engages and the solid performances keep one involved.