Thursday, 10 March 2011

No one killed Jessica

Director: Raj Kumar Gupta
Starring: Vidya Balan, Rani Mukherjee, Myra Karn
Released: 2011
Verdict: destroy every copy – horrible – bad – whatever – flawed but enjoyable - good – great – amazing

Possibly the most awaited film of the beggining of 2011 released on 7th January and it is rather non-bollywood-ish in the sense you will not find here any lovesick jodis running around the trees. But the sky high expectations do not really work here. It is a good attempt to make a different, and as possibly some cynical people might call more „real“ cinema, that sadly could have been better. No, in fact – it deserved and should have been better because of many reasons. Let´s get to the story first though.

In the night of 29th April 1999 somewhere in Delhi Sabrina Lall, a rather dull, boring and more then ordinary girl, is woken up by a telephone call announcing her sister Jessica has just been shot. Sabrina hurriedly makes her way to the hospital, but thre is nothing she or doctors can do. Jessica dies as a result of her injury. The shaken family can now only ask „how“. Turns out Jessica, who used to make some extra money as a barmaid in a prominent disco club, was shot by one of three young men, to whom she refused to give drinks, because there were none left. The three did not want to hear that and after a heated argument one of them pointed a gun at Jessica and pulled the trigger. Seemingly a very simple, saddening case. There were over 300 people present in the club, the killer was detained almost immediately and so was the gun. What a shock it is then for Sabrina and her parents, when almost all the witnesses claim they were not there! And even more painful is a sudden change in the behaviour of Jessica´s friends, who are affraid and not willing to give any clear testimony.
Sabrina - art of being a grey mouse
Why? Well, the accused killer is none other then Manu Sharma, son of a rich and influential politician, who has no trouble saying that if his son is not innocent, he will be. And so the un-ending carrousel of lies, interrogation, manipulation, bribing and threats start to spin and does not stop for the next seven years. And finally in 2006 Manu is declared innocent, because there were not enough proofs. Sabrina, who has been fighting for justice for such a long time already, is spent and exhausted. And when her mother dies and father falls ill, she does not want to fight anymore. Unknown to her at first a much stronger and fierce fighter has appeared though. Successful journalist Meera, who once refused to invest her time into the case, because it seemed so trivial and simple, finds out after seven years that „No one killed Jessica“ and her sense of justice raises like a storm...
You all shall hate this guy..... And he´s not even the killer!
As you can see, it is truly a story with potential – and even more so when you know it is based on a real event. So it is somehow sad to add that the script is not at all that amazing. The film starts on a catchy note (with some really inovative and interestingly done opening titles) and grabs your attention immediately, bringing to you a rather turbulent and disturbing story of Jessica´s dying. However after first 30 minutes the tempo of the film slows down very much as we reach the judicial court. Only after an hour the true heroine (and maybe we could even say „hero“) of the film takes her rightful place. Rani Mukherjee as Meera is incredibly charismatic, oozing unboud energy and completely makes the rest of the footage hers. Vidya Balan as Sabrina gives a solid performance, but can come off as rather indifferent and apathical at times. There is nothing memorable about her. Unfortunatelly neither Sabrina nor Meera are flawlessly portraited characters. One understands that Meera is an independent and really brash woman with a vocabulary that could easily put every agressive drunkard to shame, but why is she like that, who is she really you never get to know. It would have been nice if she was actually given some background, but that does not happen. Sabrina looses her realistic feel in the moment when she declares she is too tired to fight anymore, because you cannot make a single difference between her at the beggining of the case and after it is ended. I don´t think the actresses are to be blamed though, let´s blame the script.
You don´t, really don´t want to make her angry. Unless, of course,  you want to enrich your swearing vocabulary.

The script also fails in the second part. How come that as soon as Rani decides to do something, she manages exactly what she wanted without a slightest problem? I was waiting for some twist, some trouble to arise, but nothing came. Obviously the politicians who put so much effort and money into bribing and threatening are not that bothered as Meera reveals their manipulative tricks and destroys their reputation. It is also somehow puzzling that Meera starts her own investigation without informing or even asking Jessica´s family first.

It is not a film that would deserve to be called a classic and a message that maybe not all is right in the state of India has been presented with much more conviction and insight in other films. Plus points to „No one killed Jessica“ go because of excellent Rani and an attempt of depicting an event that has caused so much controversy not that long ago. And then of course there is a brilliant soundtrack by Amit Trivedi. His „Dilli“ is going to play in your ears for a long time after watching...


  1. I agree with you with most of the points. The movie could have been better, especially about such an important issue.
    I don't think I'd have liked it as much without Rani. When Meera decides to handle the case, this is entirely her movie.

    Amazing review!

  2. Thank you :) I also think that without Rani the rating would be much, much lower. The second half has a really weak script, but somehow it is more watchable - only thanks to Rani.