"No One Killed Jessica" read the headlines of The Times of India newspaper, on 22 February 2006. The entire nation did a double-take when it realized that what should have been an open-shut case was now one of the most shocking testimonies to corruption and double-standards in politics and the justice system.
The case in question was the murder of Jessica Lall, an aspiring model and part-time bartender in New Delhi. One a particular night, 3 men had walked into the bar she worked in. One of them was Manu Sharma, the son of Venod Sharma (a wealthy Congress politician in Haryana). He demanded for a drink at 2:00am when the bar was all out of liquor. When Jessica refused to give him a drink saying that they were all out, in a fit of rage and as a foolish dare, Manu Sharma shot Jessica Lall point blank in the temple. Jessica's sister Sabrina Lall fought for justice for almost a decade, and was sure that the three eye witnesses (one of whom was her sister's close friend) would definitely testify favorably. Instead, tables were turned unexpectedly when all three eye witnesses said they did not see a thing! It later became apparent that the aforementioned politician had bribed all three witnesses to lie in court.
Following the trial, the newspaper headlines read "No One Killed Jessica", and the accused were acquitted based on insufficient evidence. You can read the full story and details of the trial in this Wikipedia entry. It was only through the inquisitive reporting of Tehelka that the real story emerged and Manu Sharma was later sentenced to life imprisonment in December 2006 by the High Court. He has tried to appeal further but with no avail.
|Rani Mukherji as Meera Gaity in No One Killed Jessica|
The movie No One Killed Jessica is a thrilling and close-to-truth portrayal of this true story. It is the story of the fight for justice of the brave sister Sabrina Lall and the daring reporters who unearthed the true story and released damning evidence. Vidya Balan does a great job as Sabrina Lall. It is nice to see the actress minus her seductive temptress makeup and body language. Frankly, I was beginning to suspect that that was all Vidya Balan could do! I think she looks better in the down-played ponytail, the cute t-shirts and ubiquitous glasses than in the over-the-top wardrobe choices that usually mar her performances in other movies. She looks nice in 'simple'.
Rani Mukherji, as Meera Gaity the journalist, delivers whatever was asked of her, I think. Someone told her to be an obnoxious, foul-mouthed journalist who doesn't follow the rules, and she is being that. I think they could have taken the 'I'm-a-badass-journalist' a notch down and made her into a more realistic character that the audience can relate to.
|Vidya Balan as Sabrina Lall in No One Killed Jessica|
I loved the scene where Meera confronts Sabrina about fighting one more battle for 'Justice for Jessica'. Sabrina has given up on things, and is all cynical about the law and the justice system. It is at this point that Meera approaches her saying that there is a chance for justice since the public is involved and now the courts have to do something. When Sabrina refuses to cooperate, Meera berates her. The scene is powerful and really brings home the strength of well-played journalism.
The movie is a brave attempt. Dissing politicians is not a new thing in Bollywood, whereas relying on a an entirely female main cast is another risk altogether! Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherji take up the challenge well, and do justice to their roles. The story is fast paced enough to keep interest going, and deliberate enough to place all the key points of the story where they should be.
A good watch if you're into political and crime thrillers or a fan of Rani Mukherji.
Watch the official trailer of No One Killed Jessica: