No One Killed Jessica, the first movie release of 2011, is a film that unleashes a myriad emotions in you. The hard facts of modern India's most written about case are well-known by almost everybody but the director Rajkumar Gupta's dramatic handling of the crime, the criminals, the crusaders and the victim creates a storm.
The film makes you feel angry, sad, frustrated, bitter about the umpteen flaws in our administrative and legal machinery. But more than all this, it fills you with hope and confidence. No One Killed Jessica reaffirms the power and the efficacy of the ordinary man who can--and must--make the difference in a dismaying world. Unlike superhero sagas, the film doesn't just showcase two feisty women--Sabrina (Vidya Balan) and Meera (Rani Mukherjee)--who take on the might of the powerful. Instead, it throws light on the fact that the whole nation came together, joined the "Justice for Jessica" crusade and displayed how power actually resides in the hands of the people than politicians and their puppets. That's the heartening message the film throws out loud and clear at a time when the nation is scam-tainted which isn't edifying.
The pitfalls in making such a film that draws its drama from real life are many. The film could have easily been unspooled like a soulless documentary that cuts and pastes newspaper headlines in cardboard collage fashion. But kudos to the filmmaker and the actors for infusing whole lot of soul and the body in the film which races across like a hard-punch thriller. From the first phone call which informs a sleepy Sabrina of her sister's death to the candle-light vigil at India Gate, No One Killed Jessica is a racy crime drama that relentlessly draws you in. When its not the rivetting screenplay and dialogues written by Rajkumar Gupta, it is the actors who grab eyeballs with their power-packed portrayals.
Rani Mukherjee's rendition of the bitch Meera Gaity--a balsy, cuss word-spewing newshound--is sure to give you an adrenalin high. Newcomer Myra's Jessica act is full of life and endearing. But it is Vidya Balan's subdued performance as Sabrina Lall who steals the show with her quiet courage, her absolute ordinariness and her complete disbelief at how someone with a pistol in his hand and power in his head could shoot down somebody for a mere drink. Vidya's body language and her aimless commutes in Delhi's blue-line buses, cycle-rickshaws etc. and you will understand how the common man survives in India; against all odds, albeit with courage and dignity. Rajesh Sharma's cop act is poignant and brilliant. He's the cop who unabashedly takes a bribe for not beating up the politician's son in custody and yet does any and everything to fight for justice.
Everyone in the film puts in an impressive act. Rani is impeccable as the hard-talk journalist and Vidya's common girl act is stupendous. The rest of the ensemble cast fit in perfectly in their respective roles. Rajkumar Gupta has taken newspaper headlines and added heart and soul to them. It is a typically Delhi-centric film with the betel-stained police station walls to the high-heeled social circuit, the lingo has no false ring. Delhi looks beautiful, ominous, heartless and all-heart thanks to the amazing cinematography. The heavy metal tracks form the right tone to the hard-hitting film. Rani Mukherjee's garb as a fiesty TV journalist and Vidya's ordinary dress sense are totally in sync with the story.
The film has an impeccable first half and could do with some editing in the second half. But the high drama, the arresting performances and the spunky audio track by Amit Trivedi make No One Killed Jessica a memorable viewing.