No One Killed Jessica - the team of UTV Spotboy and Rajkumar Gupta comes back after their first venture Aamir and its all over the news. Touted as another comeback for Rani Mukerji, one of the best trailers and promotional strategies in recent times, Vidya Balan's continued success generating a lot of interest, a film resting solely on two female leads and one of the biggest trials that India has seen - the perfect recipe for Gupta to build upon what he set out to do with Aamir, a much-acclaimed venture. But does he strike the chord this time? Well, yes and no. The premise of NOKJ is brilliant as the famous Jessica Lall murder case but the screenplay comes out as merely an assortment of powerful scenes and the over-dramatic tones take it away from the realism of the idea.
One of the biggest challenges for the directors in the league of Gupta is to entertain and enlighten. Aamir enlightened, it didnt entertain but it was nevertheless a masterpiece. NOKJ tries too hard to strike a balance between these too and fails at most instances. It borders on the likes of masala entertainers and the director's treatment is too exaggerated and bombastic for a 'true story'. Insensitive humor also reduces the impact of the proceedings. Most courtroom scenes are written to get an applause from the audience based on one-liners and they tend to turn torturous, predictable and too melodramatic. To reconstruct on celluloid a true occurrence that is oven fresh in public reminiscence is not a trouble-free mission, but Gupta takes up this colossal challenge of placing together the controversial and litigious story of Jessica Lall's murder case on celluloid. However, having sensitive and explosive material on hand is not enough. The execution of the subject is of paramount importance. Fortunately, the one-film-old director interprets the events of the murder case in remarkable style and form and makes it a cinematic experience that haunts you even after the film has concluded. But where he fails is in his choice of making a realistic movie or a masala movie. Theres not much content in NOKJ to go on for 2 hours and editing could have been way better too. Nevertheless, Gupta rises up and handles the finale and the penultimate protions fairly well and doesnt let NOKJ go down the drains. There a bunch of disconnected powerful scenes but the melodrama in most scenes containing Rani Mukerji just bugs you off. She says 'fuck' every 2 minutes even if its not necessary, avoidable use of bad language and too much cliche with respect to courtroom trials is annoying. Many people had much higher expectations from this one.
NOKJ is definitely a gutsy venture and deserves some applause but it leaves a lot to desire too. The thrill element does not quite work for this one as there is nothing that surprises you or makes it a hard-hitting drama. The events have been chronologically put forth and the daring story of two women who challenged the system hits you like a ton of bricks. The film truly celebrates the human spirit and also reflects a vital change in the society and in the attitudes of people, for which Gupta deserves all the credit. It identifies and highlights the loopholes in the system and one of the biggest farce in Indian political history. Gupta may be young and relatively new to the fray, but that does not deter him from getting the best and most appropriate cast for his second outing but the screenplay lets all of them down and the drama goes overboard much more than it should. The only compelling character in this track is a cop (played by Rajesh Sharma), who in one of the film's best-directed scenes tells Sabrina he accepted a bribe to not hurt the accused while recording his statement. Vidya's character is pretty well written but all the other sides are underplayed. Meera (Rani's character) is pretty much useless for two-thirds of the film and Gupta chooses to fill in with a lot of garbage as to what she is doing as a reporter which is uncalled for.
Vidya Balan and Rajesh Sharma as the cop are the best performers. Vidya sinks her teeth, displays a never-seen-before understanding and delivers another performance which deserves a standing ovation. Her lack of dialogues, the constant frown on her forehead, the dismal walk/dressing sense, and her emotional outburtsts get to your nerves and your heart reaches out to her. Kudos Vidya, carry on the good work! Rani Mukerji does not do too well and I would blame it on the writing. Her character does not come out as cool as it is portrayed to be and one could get pissed off. Another problem there is that she is specially bad with English dialogues, which probably never came up in any of her movies before. The people in negative roles are ineffective. All other side characters dont reach the mark too. Cinematography is above avergae, as usual in Gupta's movies and they make you a part of the action. Dialogues are poorly written and mere one-liners to evoke applause. Editing is bad and it could have done wonders to the movie had it been like 20-25 mins shorter. The biggest standpoint of NOKJ is its music. Amit Trivedi, the new God of music in Indian Cinema, is in complete form and delivers an album which is gonna be remembered for ages and go down as a milestone for sure. Brilliant work!
On the whole, NO ONE KILLED JESSICA is a poignant story of two women's resolve for justice. It's a remarkable blend of facts and fiction inspired by a series of real-life episodes, which has thankfully not been presented as a tedious biography or in a mind-numbing docu-drama format. But it doesnt come out as an engaging thriller which has the right doses of histrionics, tautness, anguish and thrills also. This kinda leaves it nowhere and the impact is reduced. You expect a lot more, you wish there was a lot less drama to make this film so much better!
Rating - 2.5/5