Some stories need to be told. Especially, in a country where corruption has conquered the highest echelons of governance and especially when there is one, JUST ONE success story of people power winning over corruption; All the more reason to make a meal out of it.
Honestly, this was a 1 in a million case. Things like this, do not happen in India, coz. in India (as Arvind Adiga aptly explained in White Tiger) people have learnt to live in a cage, like chickens, ready for slaughter. Every time the butcher comes, all the chickens run as far from the gate as possible. Finally, one of the chickens is caught and taken away; and the rest of the chickens then relax thinking “Thank God, it was not me” till the next time the butcher comes again… But that’s for another day. For now, let us appreciate the brilliance of Director Raj Kumar Gupta who made sure that this inspiring ‘miracle’ has some repeat value, for now.
The movie starts off with a visual collage of Delhi and the powerful title track. The voice-over of Rani Mukerji then describes the year 1999 in order to take you back to that period. I think this was done very crisply and smartly, and you get the feeling that the script will not muck around. Shortly thereafter, the horror begins. Bit by bit, scene by scene, the horror of the security and legal system in India is laid threadbare. If this was fiction, you’d still have difficulty believing all of it; I mean, the witnesses being managed, critical evidence lost, it was just a lot of things being screwed up in broad daylight; just that it wasn’t fiction. It is horrifying because you realize that whatever happens in Prakash Jha’s fictional movies in Bihar and UP isn’t really that far from fact. It is even worse because you know there’s no hero who will avenge all those who have been wronged by the end of the movie; Just that in this case, there was / were.
Agreed, the movie got a head start in terms of having an amazing tale to tell; But the way in which it has been translated on screen is commendable. I’m not saying it is perfect, but it is almost there. Especially, there are a few moments in the movie which have great impact and couldn’t have been done better to reflect Indian psyche; one of which I just have to talk about. (Do not read the rest of the paragraph if you intend to watch the movie). Somewhere during the time, the initial trial was underway; the parents of the accused (whose father is a minister in the cabinet) pay a visit to Jessica’s house. The parents of both the killer and the victim sit in this sitting room, without exchanging any words, without even looking at each other. The silence stretches to the length of being awkward, and then Jessica’s father, in his confusion of being overwhelmed at having the killer’s father and a Cabinet minister paying him a visit, suggests “Chai (Tea)”. Take a bow, Mr. Gupta, thinking about the moment you visualized this scene and put it in the screenplay. There are a few others, but this one just blew me away.
On the things that weren’t perfect, well, a little melodrama, a little entertainment doesn’t harm the movie much so we’ll just let that pass. And I’d say, apart from the title track, I was a little let down by the sound track. There isn’t any other song that sticks except the title track and ‘Aali re’. Especially, ‘Aitbaar’ was disappointing; given the nice lyrics it seemed to have.
Rani, Welcome back! She’s in top form and scorches the screen with her presence, be it her colorful language, her look, her attitude, everything is top notch. Vidya, on the other end, plays her behenji part to perfection as well. It was a treat to watch these two women in a woman centric film; and to add to that, Myra was endearing in the role of Jessica.
Once in a while, the Indian film industry does surprise itself. This is one of those rare instances. All I’d say is, Do watch it; if not for the movie, watch it for the tale it tells. Even this tale is one of those rare moments, where India did surprise itself.