Jessica Loaded!

January 9, 2011 at 6:10 pm Leave a comment

Our movies have always been a reflection of our society and times. But it is rare for a filmmaker to tread the path of bringing a real life incident verbatim on to celluloid. It is fraught with risk of lacking enough punch and turning into a documentary or being over-dramatized by twisting facts beyond recognition, both of which are likely to shatter its box-office hopes.

I’m not a huge fan of the massive publicity campaign these days, where few weeks before a film’s release, the stars descend on all possible TV shows, even making inroads into our daily saas-bahu sagas. This is exactly what the team of “No One Killed Jessica” was at in the last month. The hype was enormous but except for the talented Rani and underrated Vidya as lead actors, there didn’t seem to be enough to get me excited about the film; even the director was unheard of and most likely one more of our exponentially-growing crop of debutant directors. With these thoughts running in my head, I had barely any expectations from the film as I walked into the hall.

But director Raj Kumar Gupta proved me enormously wrong. He not only had a good story to tell, he also ensured that everything from the screenplay to the performances to the music and editing fell right into place to make it a riveting experience for the audience.

Thanks to media’s coverage over the years, Jessica’s tragedy has become a sort of urban legend in the new millennium India, which put a huge responsibility on the filmmaker to ensure that he didn’t make a mockery of the subject. The initial disclaimer before the start of the film sets the tone and the beginning credits set against images of Delhi on a newspaper with the boisterous “Dilli” track playing in the background indicate that an ingenious presentation lies ahead.

NOKJ is a conscious attempt at realism. The story is the central character and there is no place for redundant romantic inclinations for the lead characters. In fact, while one lead character cries hoarse at not having a boyfriend; the other has no time for them (though the random romp on bed in between work is not ruled out!) This has ensured an uncluttered screenplay with the focus strongly on the subject. Even the songs are more of background scores, which don’t hinder the pace of the narrative and match the feel of the film.

The performances are top notch. Rani as the new age journalist, who is unabashed in her language and mannerism, and will fight to the T for justice, is impeccable in her character. Her aggression as Meira is the hallmark of the film and will be remembered as one of her finest performances. So goes for Vidya as well. As the anguished sister Sabrina, she delivers the finer nuances of her character with a rare sensitivity. She is fragile and unyielding at the same time. And she brings out the contrast of her character alongside Jessica’s and Meira’s very effectively. She almost wins my vote for the better performance, even though her character is restrained and subtle. Even the rest of the cast has been carefully chosen and lend a real look to the story. A special mention for the Page 3 restaurateur, who with her “I’m not sure” alibi, encapsulates the escapist mentality of the urban elite.
The dialogues are also straight from the urban lingo. Some lines ring true and strike a chord. Though, I was a little taken aback at hearing the non-“beeped” invectives being liberally mouthed by the characters. I’m not sure if this “creative freedom” was really required this far to lend authenticity to the characters.

It would have been easy for such a grim topic to turn into a melancholic tale of justice denied. But again the director, through the use of flashbacks and parallel narrative, efficiently takes the viewer on crests and troughs of his story. No patch is too dull and indeed, many scenes, especially the sting operations, are peppered with satire and humour and make you laugh without being slapstick.

NOKJ gives a strong social message on the lines of RDB and LRMB, and calls for an awakening of today’s generation to stand up against the wrongs of our political class and judiciary. I’m not sure if such films can radically change the face of society but they are surely required for each of us to sit up and take notice of the times we are living in.

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Entry filed under: India, Life Around, Movies and Cinema.

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