Rating: *** 1/2
On April 29, 1999 a shot was fired from a .22 bore pistol
whose loud reverberations lasted over a decade. The shot that killed a
vivacious, aspiring model Jessica Lall was fired in the presence of more than
100 `socialites` present at a party in New Delhi. Yet, accused Manu Sharma
walked free in 2006 prompting a newspaper headline that read "No One Killed
In the ensuing decade, Venod Sharma, father of the accused and a high profile congress leader, paid millions of rupees to silence witnesses. It was not until the Tehelka Magazine did a sting investigation and Star News aired the footage that justice was finally served.
"No One Killed Jessica" faithfully follows the case to emerge a winner.
Almost everyone knows the story. Yet, the film makes some interesting departures to keep the momentum going. A Barkha Dutt type character has been introduced in Rani Mukerji though the former did not have much to do with the case or its reinstatement. However, Rani lacks the intensity to pull off such a strong role and the strain shows.
On the other hand, Vidya Balan soars with the unglamorous, distraught and hunchbacked portrayal of Jessica`s sister.
Director Raj Kumar Gupta makes direct comment on the society we live in, its voyeuristic tendencies and the judiciary`s disregard for justice. Everyone knows the extent of corruption and rot in the system as symptomised by the acquittal of Manu Sharma, but the question as always is who would bell the cat if the police and judiciary do not.
In this case Tehelka, who did the sting investigation and Star News (and not NDTV that walks away with the praises in the film) that aired the footages did manage to right a wrong. But the question is not just of Jessica Lall, but the thousands like her whose cases have not had the light of justice shine upon them.
The Jessica Lall murder thus became an emblem of the rot in the democracy, police and judiciary.
The truth is, the culprits were not just Manu Sharma, his friends and his family, but Shayan Munshi who redacted his statements leading to Manu`s acquittal and Bina Ramani, both of whom continue to have successful careers, one as an actor-model and the latter as a heedless socialite. The culprit is all of us who stay silent to the injustice all around us.
The injustice done in Jessica`s case has been corrected, but the question remains of the millions of other cases of injustice in the country.
Gupta`s film on a true incident bodes well for Bollywood, which is normally not too keen on reality, and the concept of justice itself. Yet, the question is not who killed Jessica Lall, but as the gross miscarriage of injustice in Kashmir, central and northeast India and the thousands of pending cases in the country show -- it is: who killed justice in India?
In her over two-decade-long journey in Hindi film industry, actress Rani Mukerji has always followed her instincts to choose her roles. She says she not only wants to give out social messages with her movies, but also entertain the audience.Over the years, Rani's choice of films have become as different as chalk and cheese -- from "Ghulam", "Bichhoo" and "Bunty Aur Babli" to films like "No One Killed Jessica", "Mardaani" and "Hichki". Read MoreFilms that didn't work affected me immensely: Vidya
Actress Vidya Balan, who was last seen on screen in 'Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh', says her films that didn't work well affected her immensely. Read More
`No One Killed...` is about a murder that shocked nation (IANS Preview)
"No One Killed Jessica" is the first release of the year. It`s inspired by the high-profile murder of model Jessica Lall, a crime that rocked the nation 11 years ago. Filmmaker Rajkumar Gupta brings the tragic story on celluloid in his second directorial venture that is releasing Friday.
Produced by UTV Spotboy, the film features Vidya Balan as
Jesscia`s sister Sabrina while Rani Mukerji plays a journalist named Meera
Gaiety who feels passionately about the case.
The story will encapsulate incidents related to the murder and Sabrina and Meera`s relentless struggle in their pursuit for justice for Jessica. The film also stars Randeep Hooda.
Jessica, a model who also worked as a bartender, was shot dead April 29, 1999, by Manu Sharma, son of former union minister Venod Sharma, after she refused to serve him a drink at a party organised at designer-socialite Bina Ramani`s night bar Tamarind Court in the capital. However, due to lack of evidence the nine accused were acuqitted by the trial court in February 2006.
In March 2006, Delhi Police filed appeal in the high court and in December Manu, Vikas Yadav and Amardeep were convicted. In April 2010, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction and life term of Manu.
For 11 years Sabrina stood her ground and fought for justice for her sister despite many personal and other problems. She never gave up.
Gupta clarified the film is neither a biography of any person nor a documentary. It is his "own interpretation" of the case, but it is not "judgemental".
He describes it as a mix of fact and fiction. In fact, he sat with Sabrina for hours to get the facts right and she feels that the director has done justice with the film and handled the subject sensitively.
In the film, Rani will be seen in a rather bold avatar, where she smokes cigarettes and hurls abuses left, right and centre. Another area of discomfort for the film was the legal ramifications of showing real-life people, particularly the hostile witnesses in the murder case.
In fact, former cop Amod Kanth, who was joint commissioner of police (southern range) at the time the ramp model was shot dead, wrote a letter to the censor board urging it to ensure all the facts are presented correctly.
In the promos they had beeped out all the expletives used by Rani.
The censor board awarded an A-certificate to "No One Killed Jessica" without any cuts and its makers hailed the decision saying they were happy to be able to take the story to the audience.
Gupta proved his mettle with "Aamir" where he teamed up with small screen star Rajiv Khandelwal and both the director and the actor wowed critics and audiences alike with the thriller that had terrorism as its main plot.
Though the film has got an A certificate, chances are that it will lure audiences as it is based on one of the most talked about murder cases in the country and there will be many who would be curious to know exactly what happened on the fatal night and how Sabrina finally managed to get justice.