No One Killed Jessica

No One Killed Jessica is part of a growing brave genre of India movies; movies based on a high profile real-life story, with a passably logical storyline. And included with the story are proven techniques of Bollywood movie-making. The movie clocks in about 60 minutes too long, is embellished with heart-wrenching music, is overly emotive and is edited to be absorbingly silken.

The movie is based on the 10-year saga that unfolded in India, the murder and subsequent drama associated with the trial of the accused. Taking on such a high profile story had its own pros and cons. For one most people in India were already aware of the ending - the story having been plastered on the front page for years on end. Also, one could easily run the risk of being blatant in their pandering. But then, midway through the trial everyone knew this was a story begging to have a movie made of. And so they did.

In the movie, Jessica was a celebrity bartender, who was in charge of drinks at a hip party with about 300 of the local high society in attendance. When an inebriated son of a minister shows up and discovers that the bar is all out of drinks, he whips his pistol out. And in a fit of rage shoots Jessica fatally. What follows is a tale of power, corruption and the misappropriation of the legal system. As witnesses turn hostile and key evidence goes missing, the once open and shut case seems ready be sold to the highest bidder. What follows, as they say, "happens only in India".

The movie is technically competent. There is a theatrical over-the-top component, but it is thankfully not too intrusive. The pace of storytelling barely gets faster than a stroll. But the speed of narrative is balanced by a type of silken, emotive editing that can not be found outside of the sub-continent. The music is well done, forming an appropriate component of the narrative. The characters are well drawn, and do stay true to their core. And the best part about watching it on Netflix, the liberal use of profanities which were not bleeped out.

If you are looking for a gritty crime drama like Gangajal, this is not quite it. Yes, there is an element of honesty in the proceedings, but it stops well short of being searing. Instead every time things go bad, you always have the feeling that good times are just around the corner. There is only one way to describe the movie; using an oxymoron. With your indulgence one could call it a hard-hitting feel-good thriller. And one would then approximately be spot on.

February 21, 2011

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