The first week of the year is not usually a time when A-grade films see a release. It's just not considered the luckiest of times. For quite some time now Bollywood has seen only forgettable B-graders in this week. Even the second week has rarely been successful with recent years seeing disasters like Pyaar Impossible, Chandni Chowk to China and Halla Bol released in the last three years. The release of No One Killed Jessica at this time hence shows a great deal of confidence on the makers' part. And considering the tremendous response to the promos of the film it does seem to be a safe decision.
Part fact, part fiction No One Killed Jessica is a tale of Delhi model Jessica Lall's murder and her sister Sabrina's (Vidya Balan) fight for justice. An apparent open and shut case is extended to over six years with witnesses turning hostile till the accused are acquitted. And that's when a journalist Meera Gaity (Rani Mukerji) takes up the case and started unveiling facts, steering up a trial by media and thereby creating pressure on the government to take required action against the culprits.
While the basic outline of the story is pretty much the same as it happened in real Jessica Lall murder case the details added are fictionalized accounts to suit storytelling. The story is told from the point of view of Meera, who rises to fame following her live coverage of the Kargil war - a la Barkha Dutt. Meera ignores the Jessica Lall case for six years believing that it is a 'no story' but is stumped when she finds that the culprits are let go. Jessica's family in the meantime reduces to half with deaths and she loses hope in justice and people.
Director Raj Kumar Gupta tries his best to keep his narration true to life. However there are times when he lets go off his restraint and the speed goes slack. A very long first half and quite a short second half give a disproportionate feeling. While the second half moves swiftly the lack of punch and drama is felt miserably after the built up that the elaborate first half creates. Scenes like the candle march for justice overwhelms while scenes where Meera turns from a journalist to almost a superhuman - capable of superb mimicry - are quite filmy!
Technically No One Killed Jessica has some inconsistent camerawork. Extreme close ups of faces at many occasions is unappealing, while many other scenes remarkably well shot. Interestingly the way the candle protest scene is shot is quite inspired by Rang De Basanti - up to the camera movement. And the film probably could have been edited by a dozen minutes more. Amit Trivedi's music is excellent as usual and works for the film.
Performances add great strength to the movie. Both Rani Mukerji and Vidya Balan have very distinct characters and they play their part with equal aplomb. It's a delight to see Rani back on screen and this performance should go a long way in re-establishing her lost position in Bollywood. Vidya in the meantime seems to be on a dream run. Paa, Ishqiya and now NOJK - all three one after the other have been solid stamps on her command as an actress. The supporting cast which includes Neil Bhoopalam, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayub, Rajesh Sharma and very good too. Also Myra, who plays Jessica, shows promise.
The film does have the capability to stir you mildly and ponder over the injustice that is often meted out to people by the ones who hold power positions; and how not everyone turns out to be as lucky as Jessica and her sister Sabrina - who had the entire country's people backing them. The story pokes a finger into the power cabinets of the country and what ill-deeds they are capable of. However director Raj Kumar Gupta, who had left us wanting more with his debut film Aamir, does disappoint us. Post his tremendous first film this is not quite the best follow up. He could have done better. Nonetheless, No One Killed Jessica is a film you mustn't miss.
Critic: Noyon Jyoti Parasara
(3 / 5) : Good