Ek Ruka Hua Faisla is a film that I had never heard of before. I came to know about it quite by chance when I was researching the films of Basu Chatterjee. Just going by the synopsis of the film, I understood that it was a remake of the acclaimed Hollywood courtroom drama 12 Angry Men. I wanted to watch this film to have a nice laugh as I expected it to be laughable. The only expectation that I had of it was because of the fact that it was being directed by Basu Chatterjee who I believe is a brilliant director.
The story revolves around a jury of twelve men who are entrusted to ponder upon the case of a 19 year old who is being tried for murdering his father. While the jury is more or less convinced of the guilt of the boy, one man stands up against the conviction and wants the case to be discussed before a decision is pronounced. What follows is an edge of the seat drama of two hours which not only posses important questions about our humanity and our inclination to undertaking important tasks but also acts as a social commentary on a range of subjects of the modern times.
Ek Ruka Hua Faisla is indeed a remake of the Hollywood classic 12 Angry Men but its premise and treatment is so Indian in nature that it turns out to be a whole new film altogether. I have seen 12 Angry Men and apart from the plot and the manner in which the jury goes about the situation, I couldn’t find a single other common factor between the two films. Even if it was a scene to scene copy of the original and this well made, I wouldn’t have any problems with it.
The Departed, directed by Martin Scorsese won an Oscar for best picture in 2007. It was a film that was almost a scene to scene re-enactment of Infernal Affairs. But what made it a special film was the manner in which the director adapted the story and screenplay into an American topography with a very American feel to it. The story and screenplay, though exactly the same as the film of which it was a remake, felt different and original. Same is the case with Ek Ruka Hua Faisla.
Ek Ruka Hua Faisla is an extremely character driven film which it ought to be owing to the fact that it unfolds practically inside a room with 12 people speaking to each other and doing nothing else. If the characters were not good enough or for that matter weak in their characterization, this film would fall flat on its face. Thankfully, each of the characters in the film is quirkily written with enough leverage to make you stand up and take notice. Some of the characters are more noticeable than the other but that’s hardly a problem.
K.K Raina plays the character of Henry Fonda from the original. He is the first juror to raise a question about the viability of the case against the boy. He feels that a thorough discussion has to be made before reaching a verdict. This is met with contempt from most of the others. As he proceeds with his statements, he is able to show some gaping holes in the case which is then supported by his fellow jurors. Thus the Jurors start changing their stances one by one. Raina’s act is extremely subdued yet rock solid. Never for a second did I not take him for the role that he was playing.
Pankaj Kapoor holds almost a personal vendetta against the accused for what he has done. As the story progresses and the jurors start changing sides one by one, he increasingly gets restless and frustrated leading to some tense moments. S M Zaheer is the calm, composed and rational juror who constantly keeps bringing up issues that convict the boy. His reversal towards the end is the most satisfying of the lot. Subbiraj is the over the top racist who not only gets down and dirty but is despised by one and all for his attitude.
Last but not the least, Annu Kapoor plays an aged gentleman and he suits the role to a‘t’ but I have a serious problem with the makeup that he is made to put on. It was unnecessary to have him shown for a bald person as his bald makeup is horrendously bad and constantly kept taking me out of the character. Even Pankaj Kapoor’s mannerisms were a tad bit too over the top that was unnecessary in a film like this that is wonderfully riding on the subdued performance of K. K Raina.
There have been some questions regarding the viability of this film as our country doesn’t follow a jury system. Well, it must be noted that our country did follow the jury system until the KM Nanavati case after which the jury system was abolished. So all the film had to do was avoid the modern references and show the time frame to be of the yester years and no questions would be raised. But unfortunately that is not the case. These are just some of the little things that make you question an otherwise flawless film.
Ek Ruka Hus Faisla is an unlike Hindi film. It is devoid of any masala and star power and relies on the grit and intrigue of the story that it sets out to tell. It has twelve brilliant performances and each of those is different in their own manners. It is superbly directed and will hold on to your attention for the duration of its runtime. Yes! It could have been fifteen minutes shorter but then again we can accept that much of leverage. If you are interested in obscure and great Hindi films, do check out this one. Chances are, you will love it.
Rating : 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)