11 years have passed since Jessica Lall was murdered in cold blood at a Delhi pub cum restaurant called Tamarind Nights in a party organized by famous socialite Bina Ramani. 4 years have passed since Manu Sharma and others were acquitted and then re-trialled to be finally convicted. Less than a year has passed since his punishment has been converted into life imprisonment despite Ram Jethmalani’s (a lawyer who fights only for the big and corrupt) vehement protests. Links of an interview of his with Karan Thapar in Devil’s Advocate and Sagharika Ghose in CNN IBN are given here for the benefit of those who don’t know much about the case.
The movie brings back to life Jessica Lall (Myra) and Sabrina Lall’s (Vidya Balan) simple story which was one day stopped in its tracks when Jessica was shot dead in cold blood by Manish Bharadwaj (Mohd Zeeshan Ayub) in party by Bubbles Sabharwal (Mallika Sehgal). This happened despite the presence of Vikram Jai Singh (Niel Bhoopalam) and 300 other guests. As the guests turn hostile one after another, Sabrina loses her mom as well as her hope. Enter Rani (A Barkha Duttseque performance) who wears the word “BITCH” on her forehead and keeps mouthing expletives with such easy that you wonder, if she does that so easily in her life. The rest of the movie deals with the way Sabrina gets justice.
Making a film on such a sensitive topic is a very difficult task in itself. But Rajkumar Gupta (Aamir fame) has effortlessly blended reality with small doses of melodrama which in belief was required. I personally thought that the 2 lakh SMS thing, bringing the president, PM, the Middle Finger Protests and all that wasn’t true. But later on when I read about the case on coming back (that’s what the movie makes you do), I realize that yeah maan, that was so true. He has beautifully recreated 1999 with the Kargil war, the then IC – 814 hijack and the way NDTV tackled the whole issue and finally how Tehelka was involved in finding out how Vinod Sharma bribed all the witnesses. The title itself has been taken from a TOI headline many years ago.
Rani Mukherjee looks in form after a long time. With her beautiful eyes, lovely jackets and kickass acting and expletives (which elicit whistles and claps from the audience), she is for sure the hero of the movie. Vidya Balan as Sabrina is a little bit too restrained but as Sabrina has herself said that Vidya Balan has portrayed her emotions, feelings and hardships beautifully. Rajeesh Sharma who plays the police inspector Surendar Sharma in real life and talks about getting 70 lac is really good.
Myra as Jessica is cute and effervescent. In certain scenes she reminds you to some extent what Jessica might have looked like.
The music by Amit Trivedi is fantastic. With albums ranging from as diverse as Wake up Sid to Aamir and Dev D to Aisha, he has already created a name for himself in such a short period of time. Since this is a really serious movie, everyone wondered on what will be the role of songs. But his Aali Re to portray Rani and Dilli are the standout ones. The background score throughout is fantastic and chilling.
Flaws? Not much is said about the killer and his personality and state of mind. Even the witnesses are just kept as mere caricatures in the entire drama with them coming in and going out. Sabrina of real life was a fighter, courageous and ready to take on the world. But the one here is all morose, sulking and sad.
But nonetheless, its fantastic attempt to tell a real story without making it a documentary. Kudos to Rajkumar Gupta.
Rating – 4/5
FOR THE BENEFIT OF THOSE, THE CHARACTERS IN THE MOVIE WHO RESEMBLE REAL LIFE ONES!
Vidya Balan as Sabrina Lall
Myra – Jessica Lall
Rajeesh Sharma (Inspector) – Surendar Sharma
Vikram Jai Singh – Shayan Munshi
Mallika Sehgal – Bina Ramani
Naina Sehgal – Malini Ramani
Manish Bharadwaj – Manu Sharma
Pramod Bharadwaj – Venod Sharma
Lawyer defending Manish Bharadwaj – Ram Jethmalani