Anupam, Kumud Mishra Lend Heft To One Day Justice Delivered

One Day: Justice Delivered

Starring Anupam Kher, Kumud Mishra, Esha Gupta

Directed  by Ashok Nanda

Rating; ***  ½ (3 and a half stars)

It is an audacious idea, not fully  or convincingly  implemented. But nevertheless  interesting for the way the theme of  subversion of justice is  used to create a whole  narrative of anarchy.

 And then there are  the actors ,  some of  them  like Anupam Kher, Kumud Mishra, Zarina Wahab and AnanthMahadevan  so effective you  are tempted to  overlook the  giant leaps into absurdity that the  plot  daringly negotiates at the risk  of falling  into the abyss.

Deep down  , this is a  film, not free of flab and  humbug,  that cares, in  its own twisted  melodramatic way  about  the  subversion and  near-collapse  of  the justice and morality  in  India.Anubhav Sinha recently made the  masterpiece Article 15  on monstrous  inequalities in  the social  system. This frail followup doesn’t  intend  to have Sinha’s  lofty ambitions.

One Day Justice Delivered aims itself at a much  lower,and achieves some  success on that level.it would be no exaggeration to say Anupam Kher , with some help from Kumud Mishra, shoulders  the  plot’s  unwieldy yet relevant weight. Kher plays a  newly-retired Judge who  decides to set right some of  his wrong  judgments   in the  past that allowed  serious offenders  to go scotfree.This preposterous plan is never formulated with credible plot patterns.

There  are interesting “socially acceptable criminals”  like the  doctor-couple(Murli Sharma, Deepshika Nagpal) who  deliberately allow a bomb-blast victim to die,  or a hotelier who secretly shoots  a honeymooning couple. Khertakes  on  the  role of the justice-driven  vigilante  with a  stubborn slouch that  shows his belief in the   adage  about justice-delayed-justice-denied.Kumud Mishra  as  a wheezing cop, determined  to lose weight,  is  in fine form,specially when asked to take  orders from  a  female cop who insists on calling him ‘Chacha’

Esha  Gupta  makes Uncle sound like an insult.Maybe  it’s the shape of  the lips more than what  those lips say.

 The narrative works well when exploring  the underbelly of  the legal system and  loopholes in the judiciary ,   but slips up with demoniacal digressions induced  by ‘item songs’ which have seen  better  ‘daze’

Ironically a  film about injustice  repeatedly  commodifies women in various  poses  of  tawdry trance dances.These song breaks are the  film’s undoing.  With a tighter editing pattern and  less number of character  swarming the  canvas like  flies, this  thriller would have been more thrilling. By the time Esha Gupta’s Haryanvi cop act (not bad at all) enters  midway , her midriff preceding her entry, the narrative  has established itself a place in the  not-so-august  range of  headline-driven absurdities.

This film works on  the what-if level. What  if  a powerful High Court judge gets conscience pricks after retirement? And  what  if a film on  his  moral awakening was given a more delicately drawn treatment? The Jharkhandlandscape  is used  fairly  well to  amplify  the theme of  delayed justice. But there  is too little Jharkhand and too many compromises meant  to placate an audience that no  longer needs to be mollycoddled with  close-ups of wriggling waistlines,and an  insistent  background that beckons us with banshee shrieks.

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