The Jessica Lull and the Trivedi Storm

The word french word ‘Montage‘ is a beautiful term. In modern day film making, it refers to a combination of sound and visuals, edited together in a way that takes the narrative forward. It is the first thing that came to my mind while walking out of the theatre after watching ‘No One Killed Jessica’, because this film is as much Amit Trivedi’s narrative, as it is Raj Kumar Gupta’s – and that is high praise for any music director of a film, unless he/she is Andrew Lloyd Weber.

NOKJ is a foot tapping, adrenalin kicking, (supposedly) badass drama where the opening or climax is of little consequence to the viewer, as everybody knows what happened. Having said that, the film opens with an uber sexy credit sequence that is very original and fun. Right there, you know that this one has been ‘crafted’ and not just made. That feeling remains with you throughout the first half and that is thanks to some great casting, ‘easy on the stomach’ lines and ‘easy on drama’ scenes. Raj Kumar Gupta who gave us the Fabulous ‘Aamir‘, obviously has learnt a trick or two from his ‘Black Friday‘ days and wastes no time in getting over with the murder within the first 5 minutes. This is important because the Jessica Lal story (probably unfairly, but truly) is more about a nation’s outrage, than the murder itself.

And I guess that outrage was what the second half was all meant to be. And for that, the writer’s challenge was always going to be ‘making the obvious, interesting’. And interesting it ends up being, but only because Amit Trivedi jams up a soundtrack that props the film up in many places in the second half in an almost ‘Jacques Kallis’esque manner, even while everything else is crumbling around it. Case in point is when Rani’s character confronts Vidya’s in her house. Just when you are expecting the lines to crackle in arguably the most important confrontation in the script, the writer lets you down with some really ordinary stuff, completing a total KLPD. Cut to the candle light scene, but the audience is still bemused and fuming over the previous one. A few seconds later though, Amit Trivedi comes to the rescue, thundering over the candle march scene and voila – all is forgiven and the adrenalin is back.

What really works in the film is also its lighter moments – not just as relief from an otherwise emotionally draining subject, but also in bringing out the absurdity and irony of it all. There is a priceless scene in which the politician comes to Jesscia’s house and after an uncomfortable silence, the dad asks ‘chai?’.

Eventually in a film like this, I guess it all boils down to casting and that in my opinion is the best and worst things going for NOKJ. The guy who plays Jessica’s dad and Rajesh Sharma as the cop are absolute gems. Rani looks like a million bucks in probably her best possible comeback film and I actually think she fits the bill perfectly as a renegade journalist. However, you can tell that the woman doesnt enjoy smoking or swearing and every time she is made to do it, you can almost see the gun next to her head. Vidya plays Sabrina like only she can and is great throughout. But I am not sure if her take on Sabrina works for the film entirely. Could it be because the audience is unable to contrast the never-ending restraint with any outburst of meaningful proportion?

There is a placard at the beginning of the film that says something like ‘we have rolled all media into one entity’. That notwithstanding, it was still quite weird to see a Tehelka expose being called an NDTV sting. And the lack of any other journalists covering the case in the film gives it a slightly ‘ghost town’ish feel. But then again, I guess it is that kind of a ‘creative license’ that also makes it possible to dramatize my all time favourite Sagarika-bashing episode on screen.

Disclaimer: My opinions about this film could have been completely influenced by the ‘True Delhi experience’ I was treated to at the theatre (PVR Saket) – complete with an unclaimed child running in the aisle with squeaky footwear, laughter at inappropriately emotional scenes and a loud couple in the row behind.

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