Monday, January 10, 2011

No one killed Jessica? The film just did

Rani Mukherjee smoking a cigarette, cursing in the choicest hindi and angrezi abuses, wearing smart casual outfits, having fake one-sided conversations with 'Dad', proud of being a bitch, a ruthless confident woman -someone who wakes up a junior in the dead of the night and tells her, get your ass here, this is no 9-5 job. Yeah see that's how committed and ruthless she is. Another time, wakes up her soundly-sleeping-oblivious-to-the-doorbell maid. The maid retaliates by muttering 'kutti' (crasser than bitch) under her breath. Rani hears it, coolly dismisses it. says 'suna maine, ab coffee banao'. How cool is that?  Not really - its all styling, all swearing, zero soul.

Vidya Balan in the dowdiest outfits, wearing men's shirts, she walks with a slump, like a plump school boy hauling a heavy invisible school bag. She keeps making efforts to reach out to all the witnesses and looks like the invisible school bag stops her from making a sincere effort. Its all half-hearted, just about and almost there. She looks like a zombie who is cross with the director for spending the entire styling budget of the film on Rani.

The performances overall are so dismal, so artificial, e.g. Rani's TV channel supremo, who finally gives her permission to pursue the Jessica Lall case. He says ' I am all for justice, go for it'. He says it pit-pat. He puts in only as much as effort in those lines as much as he must have been paid for a 10 second appearance. Vidya's mother on the other hand is a delight- she over acts quite naturally. Especially all her crying fits.A mother's loss is seen only through some weird spaced out expressions. Compare that with the sensitive portrayal of Waheeda Rahman losing her son in Rang De Basanti through the beautifully composed and rendered 'Luka Chupi'

The movie doesnt create any empathy, we dont feel a thing about Jessica dying. We dont feel a thing for Jessica living too. Who was Jessica? Was she a woman with strong opinions and a life full of possibilities? There is a tepid and badly written speech that Vidya doles out about how in this country the value of a life is comparable to a drink. Rendered in a flat and lifeless tone. Never are we angered or disgusted - the film just doesnt strike a chord. We dont see a miscarriage of justice in the actual proportion that it did, we just see it in minute snippets.

We dont see the raw anger, the helpnesses of the common man against a corrupt political and judicial system. We just see a mild mannered Vidya make a half hearted effort. Ofcourse she makes a half hearted effort so that Rani can go all out and pull all the punches and give us the happy ending. Rani however fails to do that, apart from the sting operation. We also dont feel the heat or the enormity of the public outcry. No goosebump moments here, no leaving the theatre with a feeling like that of Rang De Basanti. The feeling that if we come together, there is still hope.

Such a let down of a movie. A could -have- been- powerful movie that falls flat. Raj Kumar Gupta fails to do justice to Jessica's memory or her case and to tell you the truth to Rani.

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