Wed, Jan 05, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Murdered model provides real-life drama in India


A new Bollywood film comes out this week based on the real-life murder of a fashion model by the son of a leading lawmaker, in a case that cast a spotlight on the corrupt nexus of police and politics.

No One Killed Jessica tracks the fight for justice for Jessica Lal, who was working as a barmaid at a fashionable New Delhi restaurant in 1999 when she was shot for refusing to serve a customer a drink.

The prime suspect, Manu Sharma, whose father, Venod, was a former government minister, was acquitted at trial seven years later after several witnesses retracted their initial statements.

The verdict prompted a public outcry and a media campaign that led to a prosecution appeal at which Sharma was convicted and given a life sentence for murder.

The case was seen as a turning point in India, whose wealthy elite had long been able to have their way with few fears of reprisals.

Director Raj Kumar Gupta said the film was a reminder of how the Indian public could be a force to be reckoned with when faced with the corrupt practices and vested interests of the rich and powerful.

The movie, to be released on Friday, stars Rani Mukherjee as a campaigning journalist who teams up with the model’s sister, Sabrina, played by Vidya Balan, to overturn the lower court verdict.

“The higher strata of Indian society realized that they cannot get away with anything after the Jessica case,” Gupta said. “They realized that the common man had found a voice and that voice will be heard if they do injustice to them.”

“This story is very inspirational because civil society very rarely comes together on such issues and tries to get justice for the dead,” he said. “In this case justice was done for Jessica. Civil society came together as one and said, ‘Enough is enough.’”

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