4 Very Good

No One Killed Jessica

Justice can sometimes be a bitch and its archaic judiciary system is exacerbated by abuse of power and money belonging to the influential wrong doers who also destroy the lives of the victim's families. All hope, patience, resources tend to drain until, a revival occurs through media's 'activist journalism'. From the cold investigative scenes of 'Black Friday' to the public outcry and activism of 'Rang De Basanti', director Raj Kumar Gupta draws inspiration from sources he's worked on and pays a worthy tribute to a legend. 'No one killed Jessica' is a moving true story of the Jessica Lal murder case and her family's journey to justice and redemption in a system where power is never in the hands of the common man.

An obdurate drunk group of men unreasonably demand a drink from Jessica Lal, the bartender at a restaurant opening party when the bar is out of drinks. The result of Manish's short temper and quick trigger reaction led to a cold blooded murder in front of bystanders and around 300 guests leading to a trial that shook the judiciary system for years to follow.
Sabrina (Vidya Balan), who sought justice for her sister, could only face an initial defeat against adversaries, who, with their political might, suppressed witnesses, altered proof and simply trampled over the judicial system with power that would never be matched by commoners such as Jessica's family. At one point, the news would shockingly flash reports saying “No One Killed Jessica” as one by one, the witnesses were compromised and after years of fighting in court and losing her mother while doing so, Sabrina loses faith in the system and reluctantly carries on with her life.
Shocked by the court's verdict, the media raises relevant questions and the public's concern leads to an outcry that demands stern justice against the suspect who is wrongfully acquitted.
Meera (Rani Mukherjee), the audacious reporter of the Kargil war had ignored the case for years, expecting an obvious outcome but when her faith in the system was shattered as well, she was determined to bring justice through the reach of media and the power of public voice.

Director Raj Kumar Gupta takes his time in the first half of the film to introduce the tragedy, agony, helplessness and anguish but once the reporter takes charge, we have the candle light vigil leading to an outcry that is heard loud and clear by even the most powerful groups in Delhi. Keenly drawing inspiration from 'Rang De Basanti', he depicts the activism among masses in so brilliant a manner that it stirs sentiments. Credit must even go to Amit Trivedi's brilliant score and Amitabh Bhattacharya's powerful lyrics especially in Aitbaar and Dilli Dilli that make the situations more dynamic.

Rajesh Sharma plays the investigating officer who is the only understanding outsider and with whose help, Meera and Sabrina stand a chance to reopen the case on a strong note.
Rani Mukherjee, has a significant role only in the second half where her determined approach to the case is well portrayed by her spirited focus, outburst and audacious ideas. Although it may not be a landmark role for Rani who is a seasoned actress in serious films (Veer Zaara) but for Vidya Balan's versatility, it lends yet another dimension in Sabrina Lal. She deals with adversity with a certain calmness that is of a disturbed and anguished individual. Yet, in all her helplessness, she expresses her frustration about the stress and despair she has experienced in a remarkable scene. That, is truly the highlight of the film's performances.

Cinematographer Anay Goswami captured Delhi in spectacular fashion when he had the opportunity and in other cases, he renders a slick look to the film in all its moments. Raj Kumar Gupta's screenplay and direction combine to form a tremendous grip over the audience especially in the second half. Even when most viewers know the conclusion and final verdict, the film has you glued till the end.
'No One Killed Jessica' is a great example of how a director can simply adapt a true story and not turn it into another docu-drama but instead, utilize his cinematic liberty to engage the audience into the story. We are connected to the characters - Those outspoken with abuses, the conniving lot, the decisive few and the determined one. Meera's energy in the newsroom is felt by us and so is Sabrina's victory with an indescribable sadness. While staying true to the reality of the Jessica Lal case files, Raj Kumar Gupta provides a fine cinematic version of Justice delayed, yet rendered righteous through the arm of media and the voices of masses.

8.171 on a scale of 1-10.