Recreating through a movie a true incident that is still fresh in public memory is not easy for any filmmaker and Rajkumar Gupta, who struggled to put together the story of Jessica Lall murder case on celluloid, says he had his share of apprehensions.
The one film old director says it was the "inspirational nature" of the incident, which drew him to the 11-year-old incident for the upcoming Rani-Mukherjee-Vidya Balan starrer No One Killed Jessica.
"The 7-8 months that I spent writing the story were the most difficult. The material is very sensitive and I had to bring it in the realm of cinema. There was hesitation. Will I be able to do justice to the spirit of the story? I was not sure. Finally, I took it as a challenge. It's my interpretation of the events," the director told PTI in an interview.
It is not Gupta's first brush with reality. In his debut film Aamir, he depicted a common man's struggle with terrorism. Gupta, however, admits that 'Jessica' was a different ballgame altogether because so much has been written about the case.
The challenge, he says, was to introduce new elements and make it an engaging thriller rather than relying on the docu-drama format. Gupta calls the film a mix of facts and fiction inspired by the 1999 murder of model Jessica Lall, who was killed in a Delhi party by Manu Sharma, the son of a wealthy Haryana politician. In the ensuing trial, Manu Sharma and a number of others were acquitted on February 21, 2006 due to lack of proof.
But media attention and public outcry saw a re-trial. Manu Sharma was found guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2006. "The film is inspired by a series of true events. The inspiration angle to the story attracted me. The case brought people together. So many unlikely heroes emerged. But it is not a biography or docu-drama.
"I wanted to take the spirit of the story and add drama, emotion and thrill. It is part fiction and part fact and very engaging and entertaining thriller. As a filmmaker I thought it was worth raising the questions," says Gupta, who started his career as assistant director on Anurag Kashyap's debut film Black Friday.
Rani plays a feisty reporter, who refuses to be a mute spectator as the culprits go free as one by one all the 300 witnesses turn hostile. Vidya Balan has done the role of Jessica's younger sister Sabrina Lall in the movie, which is slated for a release on January 7, next year.
Gupta may be young but that did not stop him from getting the best for his second film and the director credits it all to a powerful script. "Script did everything. The story became so inspirational and important that everyone started connecting to it UTV, Rani and Vidya. They all thought that the story needed to be told," he says.
The director says a lot of him has gone into the making of the movie but he is not in the mood to rest. He has already begun work on his next project Rapchik Romance. One thing, however, is still shrouded in mystery. Who is Jessica in the movie? "For that, you will have to see the film," is his reply.