Vishal Shrivastava is a student of Law at Institute of Law, Nirma University.
At a time when there is a rampant increase in the number of crimes in the country, citizens favouring vigilante justice and media houses turning their studios into courts where all the questions which a nation has are answered and asked by a single person, let us go back into the time when a movie can tell you why you must not blindly follow anything which is being told to you by the top journalists of the country. Ek Ruka Hua Faisla, a remake of American motion picture 12 Angry Men was directed by Basu Chatterjee in 1986. The most important reason you should watch this movie is because it will tell you that if you are judging a situation then you must not take the decision by blindly following facts which are being reported by the media, which has its allegiance towards corporate entities of this country.
Ek Ruka Hua Faisla comprises one of the most compelling, gripping and praiseworthy performances among Hindi films. The central plot of the movie is based on Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men where 12 jurors sit in a closed room to decide upon the fate of a 19-year-old boy who as per facts of the case had stabbed his father with a knife and the noise of him threatening his father was heard by a neighbour living downstairs while another neighbour saw the boy stabbing his father from the last two windows of a moving train.
The jury was in no mood to discuss or debate upon the facts or circumstances as according to one juror the boy came from a low background and it is in the blood of people living in slums to fight and kill, therefore he must not be given any other opportunity to kill others by setting him free and must be sentenced to death. Does this plot or argument of the juror sound similar to you? Yes it must be, as so many times we have been a part of kangaroo courts being run by media houses in the name of prime time shows that have pronounced so many people guilty. If you are still in disagreement then please be remindful of activist Khurshid Anwar who committed suicide after the trauma he went through during repeated media trials on allegations of a girl accusing him for sexual harassment. He was hanged till death without any trial or any due process of law, maybe because he was afraid of the opinions that all of us had already made in our minds.
The movie also talks about the opinions in the mind of jurors which are based on emotions and personal grudges against a particular community. The judge puts up an interesting condition, that death sentence will be pronounced only when all the jurors are in agreement but on initial voting only one juror decides that he needs to be fully convinced before he puts someone’s life on line. The eleven members are agitated at that single person as they were now supposed to sit and convince him leaving aside all there important works such as watch a film, carry out their businesses, go for recreational practices etc. In spite of the pressure by other jurors this one person wants to discuss the case from the beginning putting forth every proof and possibility that can lead them to truth. Consider this situation in real life; we often accept what the public opinion is and even if we deny something at the beginning because of our own doubts we give up very soon to peer pressure and decide to sail with the wind even if someone’s life is at stake.
Basu Chatterjee for this movie had some fantastic actors on board to create one of the best adaptations by bollywood. Actors like Amitabh Srivastava, Pankaj Kapoor, K.K. Raina, Subbiraj, Shailendra Goel, Annu Kapoor and Aziz Qureshi, are beyond brilliant and since most of these actors might be unfamiliar to you it will be a treat for you to enjoy the flawless execution of their acting skills.
After a series of debates which are in the manner of satirical presentations touching upon various aspects like corruption, bureaucracy, poverty, class and communal discrimination the wave turns in favour of the child as the jurors start to believe that there is a reasonable doubt about the fact that it was that particular boy who killed his father. At the end only one juror keeps his verdict as guilty while all others change it and a long argument between all of them reveals the fact that he had a poor relationship with his son and because of that particular reason he wants the defendant to be guilty and sentenced to death and as he cries out loud tearing the photo of his son he changes his judgment as well.
The movie is a treat for all of us and it not only tells you not to be prejudiced about things without articulating the situation. It is a fact that these days we have fixed our allegiance towards a particular group, we have made up our mind over certain issues and we do not want to listen to anybody giving opinion or trying to change ours. If the same thing would have happened in the movie then the life of a boy would have ended; if the same continues in our life we might make so many mistakes which we will have to regret later. So take decisions wisely, stop following the media blindly and yes, do enjoy this movie.
First published at Youth Ki Awaaz