It is difficult to give No One Killed Jessica less than a 'good' rating. Yet, if you look at a broader picture, it is a challenging film to sit though, considering that you know what the ending is. Sabrina Lall did get justice. And the late Jessica Lall's soul, now rests in peace.
Yet, Raj Kumar Gupta's courtroom-cum-journalistic-investigation drama makes for gripping viewing, thanks to good dialogues, performances from the supporting cast and impeccably good writing. In a way, it appears to be one of those screenplays where there has been little influence from powers-to-be and the director's vision has been intact. That's a wonderful thing.
I saw the movie in a packed Eros cinema on a Sunday evening and the film had enough moments that got the audience clapping, laughing (at the dark humour) and turn silent in recollection of passions that the case rustled up on news channels some years ago.
Amit Trivedi's music and background score beautifully capture those emotions. It rescues the film in a major way - from the very dull Vidya Balan (the real Sabrina Lall looks so much more energetic and headstrong) and lends great personality to the city of Delhi and one of its bitchwanti reporters, played by Rani Mukherji. Rani is good, fumes expletives very often and her character is identical to that of Barkha Dutt.
The last 20 minutes of the film, involving the candlelight protests are possibly its weakest. But you can't blame the film-makers for this, since they've been honest with the subject. It's just that, as an audience we've seen those visuals a little too often. An ignited candle has possibly become like an accessory now - stand with one for hours and you've made a statement of having stood up for justice, or simply been patriotic. It's become an easy recourse for a citizen who doesn't have time to press hard for long term solutions.
The original hero of the Jessica Lall case is only thanked towards the end of the film. That's the team from Tehelka, who worked relentlessly in exposing the brutalities of a system while working on this case.
In summary, I think that after the last few months, which damaged the reputation of many journalists - thanks to Open - here's a thumbs up to a film that shows that journalism for justice and the larger public interest - despite employing unethical means - is something worth cheering for.
No One Killed Jessica
Rating: * * *