Movie Review: NO ONE KILLED JESSICA (2011) – A Gritty Bollywood True Crime Story
Bio-pics are pretty damn common in both Hollywood and the Indian Film Industry. It’s a chance to yank on the backing of that famous person, dramatize elements of their story for the big bucks, incorporate some major stars in holier than thou roles and BAM! Box Office Success. However, NO ONE KILLED JESSICA isn’t about anyone famous, rich, historical, political or criminal. It’s about a girl who was killed, over a drink… yep, ONE drink. For those that are familiar with the story… I’m referring to the Jessica Lall murder case.
Rating: 5 Out Of 5 Stars
Now of course, I wasn’t there during the actual murder case that happened in the Indian city of Delhi in 1999, so I can’t tell you how much of NO ONE KILLED JESSICA is fact and how much is fiction. Some brief researching on Wikipedia did provide some cool insights, but nothing that affects the good-ness of the movie itself, regardless of fact or fiction.
First of all: It’s been a while since we saw Rani Mukherji in anything substantial. (No, I don’t count the piece of ass that DIL BOLE HADIPPA was.) So it’s super awesome to see her not only in a movie that is so socially relevant, but also in a role that is so BAD ASS. Yes, I’m totally in awe of Rani’s uber modern portrayal of a take no shit Journalist that doesn’t let the fact that she’s a girl or that she’s Indian hold her back. The casually foul mouthed, outspoken, middle finger showing, self proclaimed bitch in a way pulls the story forward at a point, where the other main lead just gives up.
NO ONE KILLED JESSICA is the story of how a young girl gets shot in a crowded bar just because she wouldn’t serve drinks to a drunk after the bar closed. The shooting happened in a high class club with 300+ witnesses which comprised of society’s elite, so it should’ve been an open and shut case. However, if it was so, the movie would end 36+ minutes into it. The shooter was the son of a high ranking minister. Thus started the unending screw job of the middle class family where Jessica came from, by denying them justice for her death. For 5+ years, the corruption, deceit, lies and beauracratic elegance of the Indian system flaunts its feathers as it goes above and beyond the call for justice… only to DENY justice to Jessica’s family. During which time, Balan’s character has no other choice but to give up and try to live her own life.
Vidya Balan’s completely underwhelming look as Jessica’s sister who does the rounds of the courts system for years, allows her to give an incredibly overwhelming performance as she relies solely on her chops as an actress to carry her through this film. The frustration expressed by Balan’s character at not being able to get the people responsible for her sister’s murder is done perfectly by Balan. Despite being a strong actor, Balan plays this role with a lot of simplicity, and no over the top histrionics as one would expect from such a movie. Balan’s character is the perfect compliment to Mukherji’s bitchy character throughout the second act of the film, despite the two not sharing too much screen space together.
For a film revolving around such a controversial topic as a real life murder, NO ONE KILLED JESSICA never preaches or tries to shove a ‘message’ downanyone’s throats. This is done purely through Rani Mukherji’s character, as she isn’t perfect or moral herself in anyway, however she does the right thing by bringing attention to this injustice, through some unethical tactics. This film essentially just, is. It is just a depiction of a story, that may or may not have happened. But isn’t that the point of realistic cinema? A story that may as well have been a real life event in the way it’s made, where, even our suspension of disbelief is minimized slightly in order to open our minds to the possibility of this taking place… thus enriching the experience that much further. One doesn’t walk away from NO ONE KILLED JESSICA with immense passion or rage or shock or any other strong emotion really. It’s not a film designed to ‘awake’ anything within one, but rather is an amazingly done film that boasts of awesome performances, and very simplistic storytelling.
P.S. The soundtrack is kick ass and incorporates itself very well into the film with some well placed montages.