No One Killed Jessica an engaging thriller

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(image) New Delhi: How can you kill someone in front of 300 people and still get away?

Director Rajkumar Gupta opens his film `No One Killed Jessica`, a dramatic recreation of the sensational Jessica Lall murder case in 1999, with this basic question.

In the next two and half hours the director dissects the events that led to the acquittal of the accused by the lower court and the subsequent retrial after an uproar in the media and public.

owever, Gupta`s story is not a mere reconstruction of the events in the infamous murder case but it is his critique of the society.

e goes behind the motives of the people involved in the case and shows how intricate this web is where someone with a pistol in his hand and power in his head can shoot down somebody just for a drink and still slip through the gaps within the system.

In the movie, most of the witnesses who turned hostile do not lack in conscience but lack courage. Gupta brings that out with the help of a brilliant script, beautifully written dialogues and power packed performances by his leading ladies Vidya Balan as Sabrina Lall, Jessica`s sister and Rani Mukherjee as Mira, a reporter.

Balan has always done well in difficult roles but her portrayal of Sabrina is brilliant. Gupta has given her character a silence and innocence, which she has enhanced with her acting and body language. Not a single twitch on her face goes unregistered. She does not have many dialogues but her eyes, hidden behind thick glasses, speak volumes.

She has perfectly portrayed the journey of a 22-year unsure, naive and confused girl, who is forced to grow up with the murder of her sister. Balan has put all the pathos and vulnerability in her performance which shines through her dowdy everyday clothes and ordinary personality.

On the other hand, Rani Mukherjee is the loud, brash and sometimes rude news reporter, who cusses freely and takes being called a `bitch` as a compliment. She does #

not have much qualms about using unethical methods to get to a story.

She initially rejects Jessica`s story as an `open and shut` case but is forced to eat her words in the end. Rani is basically the personification of the media`s activism at that time and she has been good with her performance. However, she is the only character in the movie, that is over-the-top and veers toward unreality.

Gupta has picked his supporting cast wisely. In the movie, Jessica`s best friend and prime witness Vikram Jai Singh has been played brilliantly by Neil Bhoopalam. The character, led on and actor Shyan Munshi, turns hostile saying he does not understand Hindi and his statement was taken in Hindi.

His excuse is quite genuine: "I did not want their money but I also did not want the bullet."

Rajesh Sharma, who plays N K, a cop, has no qualms about taking 70 lakh just not to mistreat the accused but appearances are deceptive here. This corrupt policeman, who can easily pass on for a villain in a Hindi movie, is mortified with his inability to frame the criminals.

He is also baffled by the insensitive nature of the high society people, who refuse to get involved in the case simply because they don`t want to get involved in the legal tangle.

Newcomer Myra Karn, who plays Jessica, is good in her  small role and her likeness to the slain in uncanny.

The director has stayed true to the language and the soul of city, which reflects the different shades that make Delhi what it is today.

The first half of the movie has its rhythm in place but director strays a bit in the second half where too much happens too fast and at times the over dramatisation muddles with the sense of reality that the narrative tries to convey.

Amit Trivedi, who made a splash with `Dev D` and `Aisha`, has kept his music in sync with the narrative and tracks like `Dilli, dilli, dilli`, `Alli Re Sali Re` and `Dua` take the story forward without interfering with the speed.

Much has already been written about the case, which made Gupta`s task more daunting but the director has taken the too-known story and turned it into an engaging social thriller.

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