No One Killed Jessica

 

 

Pic source: UTV Spotboy

Power… this one thing that is more abused in our country than it is used for what it’s meant for. From politicians to traffic cops to telephone linemen to the relatives of a bureaucrat; everybody is somebody in our country. The film, No One Killed Jessica opens with the same thought, albeit about the city of Delhi. Delhi, where no one killed Jessica Lall and no one killed Aarushi Talwar. Is it the city or is it the people or is it the system? Director, Raj Kumar Gupta’s second film after the very well made Aamir (2008) tries to ask the same question. No One Killed Jessica is a great attempt at making a hard hitting and brave film based on a real life incident that shook the nation’s conscience. I say a great attempt as the film makes a point but beyond the emotion, it falls short of achieving cinematic excellence.

The film opens with a spectacular credits sequence with the sensational ‘Dilli Dilli…’ track that sets the tone of the film. In fact, the music by Amit Trivedi with Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics is the film’s one of the biggest strengths. Talking about strengths, the film’s leading ladies, Vidya Balan and Rani Mukerji shine as Sabrina Lall and Meera Gaity, a journalist with striking similarities to NDTV’s Barkha Dutt, respectively. The first half of the film belongs to Vidya who sensitively portrays a girl in her twenties who is vulnerable and at the same time determined to get justice for her sister’s murder. Rani makes a powerful comeback with a fiery character and once again shows what a powerhouse of talent she is. I only wish that she was made to scream a little less.  Rajesh Sharma as the chief investigative officer on the Jessica Lall murder case also deserves a special mention; he is believable as a frustrated cop.

With a powerful subject, good performances and a superb soundtrack, No One Killed Jessica could have been an outstanding film. However, the film is not consistent and has its fabulous and dull moments. The film really moves you but also drags in parts; some of the court sequences actually make you cringe due to the way they are shot with extreme close-ups. The film could have been fifteen minutes shorter for a much more impactful narrative (screenplay – Raj Kumar Gupta; editing – Aarti Bajaj). Having said that, hats off to the director and the producers, UTV Spotboy for making a relevant film like this. It is the right time for Hindi cinema to experiment and present real or realistic stories on screen; no matter if it doesn’t have a hero, people will come to watch as I saw today in a packed theatre. I recommend watching No One Killed Jessica once for the subject matter and the great performances by the cast.

My rating: * * * Three stars on five

A note for fellow film lovers: If you are tired of film awards that are not merit based, it is time to take the decision in your hands. Presenting the Tweeple Film Awards! Truly democratic awards that are ‘Of the People’, ‘By the People’ and ‘For the People’, to honour the most deserving in Hindi Cinema 2010. It’s a movement started by film buffs on Twitter to counter the nonsense that ‘Bollywood’ film awards are.

Follow Tweeple Film Awards on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/twi_fi_awards and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/twifiawards. You can also email on twifiawards@gmail.com


Band Baaja Baaraat

 

Shaadi Mubarak –Wedding Planners of the Year

 

Pic: Yash Raj Films

Super bored of the designer romantic comedies released this year (read my earlier column, Rom Com Gone); I was looking forward to Yash Raj Films’ Band Baaja Baaraat (BBB) as the promos looked tacky (in a nice way) and fun. The film thankfully lived up to its promise of ‘Fultoo Dhamaal, Mother Promise!’ Yes, that’s the copy they’re using in the film’s promotional material. And that’s the kind of writing the film has, which makes it enjoyable. Written by director, Maneesh Sharma (story) and Habib Faisal (screenplay), the film’s strength lies in its middle class Delhi feel and the lack of polish making it so endearing.

About the lead pair, BBB has Anushka Sharma who reprises the simple yet feisty girl character again, two years after her debut as Taani in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. She plays Shruti Kakkar, a middle class girl from Delhi who has the dreams and the drive to make it big. Opposite her is Bittoo Sharma, played by newcomer, Ranveer Singh; a student in Delhi’s North Campus who wants to do binnesse (business) so that he does not have to manage his father’s sugarcane fields in Sahranpur. Shruti and Bittoo start a wedding planning binnesse in partnership called Shaadi Mubarak and achieve great success by leveraging each other’s strengths. However, the dream run does not last long as they break one major rule of binnesse, mixing vyaapar (business) with pyaar (love). Just like the plot, the film is great fun in the first half but loses steam towards the second only to have a predictable ending.

Anushka is impressive and appears extremely confident, while Ranveer nails the character of Bittoo with his look and mannerisms; Bread Pakore Ki Kasam like he says in the film. A special mention for the supporting cast, mostly unknown actors who fit the characters well; a flower vendor who looks like a flower vendor and not Anupam Kher type actor in bad make-up.

Coming back to the writing, the dialogue is sharp, witty and colloquial; all Dilliwallas can relate to the wrong use of English and Punjabified pronunciation. A large part of the film is shot in Delhi’s residential areas, making it look more relatable. Come to think of it, this kind of depiction of the city is not new but we have loved it again and again in films like Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Do Dooni Char and now Band Baaja Baaraat. Special mention for the production designers, Sonal Choudhry and T P Abid for retaining the Delhi feel and designing the kitschy wedding sequences, the USP of Shaadi Mubarak. Camerawork by Aseem Mishra is nice and some of the wedding sequences look like actual shaadi videos only. A big disappointment is the music by Salim Sulaiman, which fails to match the film’s energy.

Overall, Band Baaja Baaraat is a fun watch and if you’re looking for a light entertainer this week, then go for it.

My rating: * * * Three stars on five

– Shrey Khetarpal