Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who Killed the Ending?

NO ONE KILLED JESSICA (2011)

Producer: UTV Spotboy
Director: Raj Kumar Gupta
Starring: Rani Mukherjee, Vidya Balan, Rajesh Sharma and others
Rating: *** (3 of 5)
Pros: Some truly stirring scenes, Rani Mukherjee with some uncanny lines
Cons: A boring post-intermission session, terrible songs

Delhi. It's a city that, for better or worse, always captures the Indian imagination. From the streets of Chandni Chowk to the corridors of South Block, the city has been the subject of many a movie. No One Killed Jessica focuses on an incident in Delhi that brought the media to the forefront of our justice system: the Jessica Lall murder case.

The story sticks to the original, more or less. Jessica Lall is an upcoming model and part-time bartender. On one assignment, she faces a drunk Manu Sharma, son of a powerful Minister in Haryana. Manu Sharma is refused a drink simply because there is none left: and he shoots Jessica for that. A simple murder case, in which 300 witnesses were present and the bullets were recovered, turned into a nightmare for Sabrina, Jessica's heroic sister.

Eventually, Meera (Rani Mukherjee), a young reporter for NDTV (her role bares a resemblance to Barkha Dutt, in more ways than one), comes to the rescue and the rest is the stuff of media legend.

All praise goes to Vidya Balan, who once again proves that you do not have to show skin and do item numbers to get famous in Bollywood. Her portrayal or Sabrina Lall evokes strong emotions. Rani Mukherjee too goes way out of her league to portray Meera, full of energy and attitude. Together, the two give life to the movie. The comic relief from 'mere Monu ko kuch nahi hona chahiye' makes it a perfect movie.

Almost. The problem is that, post-intermission, the movie completely loses its vision and goes into a sort of delirium. The same, rather boring song, goes on infinitely and the same candle-light scene stretches on and on. And suddenly, the ending arrives: no judge pronouncing the verdict, no cheering crowds, no celebration. It ends so abruptly that if it weren't for the "fashion show" at the end (don't ask), nobody would have guessed that it was time to leave!

The music is very depressing. 'Dilli,' although a hit in some circles, left me irritated. The other songs were not even worth remembering. Then again, music is not central to the plot. The costumes are quite good, with Vidya looking her part. The scenes of Delhi are a bit cliched and the depiction of NDTV could be outrightly wrong (I believe it was just STAR News back then?).

For all its flaws, the movie does manage to decently portray what was a landmark for the Indian media, an event that put people's faith in the media, a faith that was shattered only by 26/11 and Radiagate. But apart from that philosophical thought, it offers little else. Watch it if you're free, but don't waste your time otherwise. (OTFS)

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