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Halla Bol Jessica's story?

Has Rajkumar Santoshi's Halla Bol, which stars Vidya Balan and Ajay Devgan, been inspired by the Jessica Lall murder case? Hiren Kotwani finds out.

entertainment Updated: Dec 19, 2007 12:19 IST
Hiren Kotwani

Ever since the promos went on air, the buzz is that Rajkumar Santoshi's Halla Bol draws inspiration from the Aamir Khan-Narendra Modi headline-grabbing controversy sparked off by the Narmada Bachchao Andolan.

However, though the conflict between Ajay Devgan's character, Sameer Khan and Darshan Jariwala who plays the politician Gaekwad over a socially relevant issue is an integral part of the story, our source insists that the film is actually a takes off on the Jessica Lall murder.

On the night of April 29, 1999, Lall, a former ramp model, was gunned down in plain sight at Delhi's Tamarind restaurant. The alleged killer was Manu Sharma, the son of a former Union Minister.

According to our source, in the film too, Khan, a superstar, is an eyewitness to a similar crime. He starts out giving a false statement to the police, insisting he had left before the shootout. His evasive tactics should bring back memories of Shayan Munshi. The model-actor too has been in the news for his ‘false' testimony.

Our source adds, "Later, when the murdered girl's sister goes to him, pleading with him to testify against the murderers, reminding him that her sister had once approached him for his autograph. When he tries to shrug her off, telling her bluntly to pray that her sister's soul rest in peace, the sister tells him to pray for his own lost soul."

<b1>Shocked by her words and those of his guru Sidhu (played by Pankaj Kapur), Khan has an attack of conscience. He resolves to give a true account to the police as a murder witness. And ends up being taunted in public and threatened by the bigwigs in private.

Pure coincidence
When quizzed on the subject, Santoshi attributes the similarities to "pure coincidence". He pointed out that a politician's son taking the law into his own hands is nothing new, either in society or in cinema.

"I'd first narrated the subject to Shah Rukh Khan sometime in 1997- '98. That was a year or two before Jessical Lall was murdered," he asserts.

But the film didn't get made then. Santoshi got busy with other projects like Chinagate, Lajja and The Legend of Bhagat Singh. "Other scripts happened with other producers and Shah Rukh and I couldn't work together," he says.

Bring up the Jessica Lall case and he adds, "For justice to be done people need to speak out against injustice.. in support of the law. That was the message of Damini. Halla Bol too is about raising one's voice against what's wrong. If you remain silent you become an accomplice too."

Isn't that what Sabrina Lall has been saying too?