The movie, No one Killed Jessica, would have been a disaster at the box office had it not been based on a real event. The plot has no realism, the characters are totally unconvincing, and the story does not hold. Truth is stranger than fiction. That’s the only reason why this movie may win viewers. [If it does indeed. The theatre at which I watched it today was more than half empty though the movie was released less than a week back.]
Consider the plot. A bartender-girl is shot dead in the presence of 300 people. There are at least seven persons who saw the incident clearly. But the killer gets away with it easily because there are no witnesses. The reason: the killer is the son of a powerful politician. And then somebody from the media gets an idea to dig the story a little deeper. The culprit is brought to book.
Consider the message. The real power belongs to the people. If the power is with the people no villainous son of a villainous politician [son of a bitch is an oft-heard phrase in the movie as is bastard] can get away with his villainy. And who brings the power to the people? The media, of course.
The media is the hero of the movie. And it is led by a heroine, Rani Mukherjee, whose dialogues reek with obscenity. I am not surprised with the obscenity of the language. All the journalists I know [and I know very few] use such language. The reason, I think, is that they normally deal with villains [politicians] in front of whom they cannot wield such a tool and hence they use it elsewhere.
The real heroine of the movie, Vidya Balan, sister of the murdered Jessica, ends up as a fighter who gives up eventually. And the reason? “I’m 28. From the age of 22 I started fighting for this cause of bringing justice to my beloved sister. All my attempts were in vain. And I lost my mother too in the meanwhile. My father is in hospital now. I could not have a boyfriend. I don’t have a decent life. I could not be a normal girl. So I’m giving up.” Phew! What a heroine!
Raj Kumar Gupta, the writer-director of the movie, could have thought of so many other reasons for Vidya to give up the pursuit of the case. And made her a real heroine. For example, she could have said that she did not want to join a game for the sake of media-person’s ego-building exercise.
The movie ends up as precisely that. Showing the media as the real hero.
It thanks Tehelka in the end though it is NDTV that is projected as great all through the movie, except for the magazine, Tehelka, shown in the hands of a character once or twice. Tehelka does perform its duties as the watchdog of democracy quite sincerely and sincerely too does it deserve the footnote in the movie. Does NDTV perform the job of the watchdog? Or is NDTV merely another commercial hero that plays according to the rules dictated by the villains in Indian politics?
And yet why does NDTV become the hero in the movie?
Another problem posed by the movie is its assertion that Delhiites are all people who pretend to be a somebody though they may be a nobody. It’s quite true too. Having lived in Delhi for ten years, I cannot really question that verdict. I have seen Delhiites betraying their best friends for the sake of some small, very small, illusory benefit. [Delhiites come from all over India including Haryana.] But the feeling that ‘I’m the greatest’ or at least that ‘I am indeed great’ is not confined to Delhi, I think. This is a problem with our time. In the present era, the young generation in any part of the world, made rich by neoliberalism, is taught to think that every individual is the greatest. And every individual understands that teaching according to his/her intellectual capacity. Most individuals are not intelligent enough to understand it in the way it should be. Hence the ego is built up, instead of the consciousness-level. This is not just Delhi’s problem, Mr Gupta.
Power to the people. That is the message of the movie. And what will the people do with the power? Unless there is some media-person to guide them? Nothing. Most people are helpless, again, in the era of neoliberalism. In this era the power belongs to the rich. If you have money, you can win over anybody in this world. That’s the principle of neoliberalism. The only principle. The actual villain of the movie, Manu Sharma, came out of the prison with his money-power. The movie doesn’t show that, of course. He went back to the prison too. Because of the media. The media can be the real hero. Not the people.
But the media is selling itself to politicians who control neoliberalism. Even a prominent journalist of NDTV [quite like Rani Mukherjee] was in such a controversy recently with the Niira Radia tapes.
Entertainment. That’s what movie is about. No one Killed Jessica is entertainment. But nothing more. Another entertainment amidst NDTV and our politicians.
I exempt Tehelka for now from that category. Maybe until Tehelka becomes rich enough?!
I hope and pray that Tehelka continues to remain different. I still remember Tarun Tejpal’s [Tehelka’s owner and editor] speech in my school when he came as a chief guest some five years ago on the annual day: “Be bold enough to question the wrongs you see,” he advised the students.
I apologise unconditionally for my cynicism.