NOKJ is a re-enactment of the much publicized Jessica Lal murder case. Tracking the case from the time of the murder to the case getting kicked up to the higher court, the movie examines two key themes — the power of the media and the helplessness of the common man, who has no political or other influential connections.
The story is one that most of us already know — of how Jessica was shot because she refused to serve a drink to a politician’s son, of how her sister, Sabrina Lal fought for justice for her sister, of justice being denied, and then of the massive public support (shown as the “Justice for Jessica” campaign in the movie) that forced the judiciary to re-open the case, finally resulting in the main accused, Manu Sharma, being sentenced to life imprisonment.
What the movie does is to portray the common man’s helplessness — since the prime accused was a politician’s son, his father’s political clout was enough to ensure that the 300 people present at the party on the night of the murder either didn’t see anything or left before the incident took place. Threats and bribes ensured that all of the prime witnesses turned hostile. A helpless Sabrina (Vidya Balan), who believed that Jessica’s friends would stand up for her was left stunned when one by one, almost all of her friend’s turned hostile. She thought that at least one of the guards who was present at the time of the shooting would speak up to ensure that justice was served, but again, the promise of money was enough to ensure that the guards turned a blind eye.
The movie also portrays the strength of the media — when a TV reporter (Rani Mukherji, based loosely on Barkha Dutt) laid bare all the evidence on TV, the entire nation rallied together to demand justice for Jessica, which ensured that the case was re-heard in high court. Manu Sharma was convicted for life, and in 2010, the Supreme Court upheld that decision.
The Arushi Talwar case, though, is more intriguing. The CBI believes that Arushi and the Talwar’s full-time help Hemraj were killed by Arushi’s father Rajesh Talwar, but they have been unable to establish a motive or to gather enough evidence to charge him, and at the end of December 2010, they filed to close the case. Doesn’t it make you wonder if that is the whole truth, or if money and power are playing a role behind the scene?