Friday, April 08, 2011
#97: Ek Ruka Hua Faisla
If you watch an average Basu Chaterjee film, you will know that the man is a middle class man's director. His movies will inevitably revolve around an average family and their habits as in Chitchor or Baaton Baaton Mein or zero in on a particular character's travails as in a Chotti Si Baat or a Chameli Ki Shaadi. If he would've done just these kind of movies, he would've still earned your respect. The brilliance of the man of course lies in the fact that he also would back himself to do a movie with no songs and no heroine and yet come up with an Ek Ruka Hua Faisla. For the record, he is also the man who took the reins of direction on India's greatest detective - Byomkesh Bakshi.
Yes, Ek Ruka Hua Faisla is adapted from a Sidney Lumet Hollywood classic. Yes, the story is not new. And yes, Basu did not add any special twist in the movie. But let me also remind you here, top of my head, I can tell you five other movies adapted from Hollywood, scene by scene and yet coming a cropper because of absolutely poor execution. What Ek Ruka Hua Faisla lays down, are the ground rules to make a solid adaptation. What one needs, if one is not tampering with the original story, is a group of brilliant actors so that one doesn't compare the difference in performance levels on-screen. The movie is about 12 jurors meeting to pronounce the verdict on a murder. 11 of them agree that the accused is guilty. One differs and therein lies the central conflict that the screenplay resolves in a little over two hours.
Half of the credit for the movie has to go the original play written by Reginald Rose. The other half is the magic that's created by actors such as Pankaj Kapoor, K.K. Raina, Annu Kapoor, Amitabh Srivastava, M.K. Raina amongst others in this intense courtroom saga. It is an embarassment of a goldmine of acting talent on-screen. No names half as famous as any mainstream Bollywood hero but each of those 13 actors (including a moderator) worth their weight in gold. The movie builds up a tense pace and strikes a note so high that it's difficult to imagine that the momentum could be maintained. But the best is reserved for the last - a no-holds-barred climax and thanks to that man Pankaj Kapoor who delivers a monologue so riveting, it could be used as an adhesive the next time you want someone to stay glued to the TV. So is there a flaw in the movie ? None but would you give a movie that's a scene to scene copy from another classic 100% marks. Personally, I wouldn't.
But, be that as it may, let me end with something hypothetical to complete this review. Let's just say it's the end of the world and God gives you one chance to save your life provided you give the correct answer to what has best courtroom drama ever in Indian cinema. I say, you just utter the words 'Ek Ruka...' and you will see a happy forgiving smile on God's countenance.