With Paa, 2009 ended on a beautiful note for Vidya who is today being singled out for projects where top actresses are either pitching for or are in strong contention. While one such project is a reel life portrayal of the infamous Jessica Lal murder, another is touted to be a film that would mark the return of Gulzar to direction. Naturally, Vidya has all the reasons to be elated with 2010 seemingly super packed for her. Ishqiya releases today while Chenab Gandhi, next production of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, is all set to get on floors in quick time. In a conversation with Joginder Tuteja, Vidya Balan reveals how No One Killed Jessica is an important film and she doesn’t have any apprehensions enacting the role of Sabrina Lal in spite of anticipated pressures from the world of politics and crime.
No One Killed Jessica has been in news for last six months ever since director Raj Kumar Gupta (Aamir) expressed his desire to film it. You must indeed be ecstatic to play the role of Sabrina Lal, Jessica’s sister who fought for justice and ran from pillar to post in order to put the culprits behind the bars.
Yes, Jessica Lal film is happening in the month of February. I am all excited about it and have already started preparing for the role. After Aamir, one can pretty much imagine the kind of sensibility that Raj Kumar Gupta would bring in the film. The entire Jessica Lal case really reflects the kind of change in our times and how people are now forced to take things in their own hands and fight for themselves legally. It was thanks to mobilisation of people power that justice was finally meted out. Its things like these that prompted Raj Kumar Gupta to make an entire film around this theme and I pretty much understand and respect his vision.
After Aamir, one can pretty much imagine the kind of sensibility that Raj Kumar Gupta would bring in the film
Not many actors would dare to step into a project like this which deals with a real life tale and that too which is centred on crime. Since No One Killed Jessica is a film which is based on a topical issue, don’t you ever feel that it would be a risky preposition to be a part of something like this?
No, I didn’t feel so and that’s mainly because even though the film is based on a real life incident, it is reflective of a very important change in the society while staying on to be a testimony of one of the most infamous court case that we have witnessed. It is clear now that people are looking at being torch bearers and trail blazers instead of waiting for justice to be meted out to them. The single point agenda is – ‘Let’s be THE change that we want rather than waiting for change to happen around us.
NOKJ is reflective of a very important change in the society while staying on to be a testimony of one of the most infamous court case
In the past there have been films attempted around real life scenarios. However majority of them have been guilty of turning out to be docudramas and in the process catering only to niche audiencesâ€¦
(Interrupts gently) This is certainly not going to be the case with No One Killed Jessica. Our film is a thriller based on a social incident that rocked the nation. Yes, if we had just ended up stating one fact after another in a monotonous manner, it may have indeed turned out to be a documentary. However, that’s not something that Raj Kumar Gupta or anyone amongst us aspires for. We have to seek audiences for a film like this and it is imperative that there is fair bit of dramatisation and fictional elements that come in.
NOKJ is a thriller based on a social incident that rocked the nation and not a documentary.
Being a part of a sensitive affair like this always comes with its own challenges. More so when an issue is topical and has been discussed and debated at length in urban India at the least. With no scope of any flaw whatsoever or anything over dramatic that may take away from the seriousness of the subject, don’t you ever feel that No One Killed Jessica is akin to walking a thin rope?
That’s true, I understand that and as you rightly state, one has to be really sensitive about a subject like this. Thankfully this case has been pretty well documented and people involved in it also exist so we have the right sources to refer. However, the film is not trying to make a social statement. Eventually, it is going to tell an emotional journey of a family which seeks justice. For an actor, the most important factor about picking a real life story like this is to have a strong conviction in the subject as well. This is why I pick up fewer projects but these are the ones about which I am most convinced.
Isn’t Balki making Paa the biggest example of someone’s risk really paying off?
With the kind of professional route that you are taking by working in films as diverse as Paa, Ishqiya and now No One Killed Jessica, there are always higher chances of something backfiring though, isn’t it?
See if you are convinced about a story and the people who are going to make it, you obviously end up getting good vibes. Of course, success and failure is not in your hands and all you can do as an actor is be a part of the film in a most convincing manner. When you are honest, your work shows. When you are passionate, your excitement is palpable. This is when you are talking to me about the film, I am responding at length and you can do so only if you feel strongly about your film and come with that conviction about being a part of something extraordinary. Rahi baat risk ki toh just let it be. Isn’t Balki making Paa the biggest example of someone’s risk really paying off?