It’s never an easy task to make a film based on real events which transpired in the recent past. Keeping the parameters in mind Rajkumar Gupta’s No One Killed Jessica is a laudable effort that gets most of it right.
No One Killed Jessica Story
A little over a decade ago Delhi woke up to the murder of a model called Jessica (Myra Karn) who was shot in cold blood for refusing to serve a politician’s son a drink at a party. Jessica’s sister Sabrina (Vidya Balan) fights a lone long battle where the seven key witnesses turn hostile. Even though the cop investigating the case NK (Rajesh Sharma, fantastic) tries his best, Manish Bharadwaj’s (Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub) father’s clout helps him get away. Initially dismissive of the case as it looked open and shut for there were 300 people present at the party where Manish killed Jessica, the travesty of law enrages top reporter Meera Gaity (Rani Mukerji).The no nonsense reporter takes it upon herself to see that Jessica gets justice.
Based on a real life case that was followed by the entire nation, there was very little in No One Killed Jessica that the viewer wouldn’t already be aware of and yet Gupta’s screenplay manages to keep you riveted for most of the film. Gupta never rushes in setting things up and the entire lead up to the courtroom scenes really carries you along in the journey that unleashes a multitude of emotions. A major part of the film works largely due to Vidya Balan’s restrained Sabria. Watching her parents lose hope and wagging an almost lost battle against the might of a few Balan’s everywoman act adds great resonance to the film.
Sometimes the truth is, in fact, stranger than fiction and the Jessica Lal case proves that beyond doubt and while the film never really ran the risk of being dull or boring it however gives in to gimmickry every now and then. A big part of this flashy attitude comes in the form of Ms. Rani Mukerji who uses her star power to the hilt. Portraying a journalist blatantly modeled on Barkha Dutt, Mukerji’s Meera is the girl who kicks the hornets nest. She chews most of the second half of the film, which sadly Somay Gupta plays like an ode to NDTV. The media played a vital role in ensuring that guilty were bought to book and to think that it was only Meera Gaity who made it possible would be incorrect. But Ms. Mukerji is in top-notch form and thank god that she chose to look beyond the usual.
Final Words on No One Killed Jessica
Gupta’s screenplay somewhat falters as the film progresses. The first half is blessed with great pacing and commanding performances by Balan and Rajesh Sharma but in the second half it’s mostly Mukerji. The scenes where Meera goes about solving the case with the help of sting operations, mimicking Sabrina while talking to witnesses and helpful people who leave key evidence in her mailbox are well crafted but seem very simplistic. The second half simply ignores Vidya Balan and one wished Gupta had parallel cut a little more like in the first half where Rani Mukerji doesn’t have many scenes but is never missing.
Just like the incident it’s based on No One Killed Jessica is very real and gritty. Gupta’s very dilli dialogues and Amit Trivedi’s music also help. It’s not simple murder mystery but also offers a fleeting look at how we failed as a civil society in dealing with the guilty who didn’t stop from ending someone’s life for a drink.