Review Bengali

Nirbhaya review: This courtroom drama with confused intentions trivializes serious topics

Release Date: 12 Nov 2021

Cinestaan Rating

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Roushni Sarkar

Anshuman Pratyush's film only serves to educate the audience on the abortion rights of a minor and give all the artistes adequate screen time.

Anshuman Pratyush’s film Nirbhaya (2021), starring Gaurav Chakrabarty, Hiya Dey, Priyanka Sarkar, Sreelekha Mitra, Santilal Mukherjee and Sabyasachi Chakraborty, is a courtroom drama with confused intentions.

The film begins with the gang-rape of Piyali (Dey). Then the narrative gets into technical details of laws relating to the abortion rights of a minor. The rape issue is trivialized further when the film focuses on the romantic angle of two separated lawyers contesting the abortion petition while the plot continues to educate the audience about laws relating to the adoption of an unborn child.

Piyali is brutally raped by a bunch of hooligans close to a powerful minister on a night when the villagers are enjoying a Jatra performance of the episode from the Mahabharat involving the dishonouring of the Pandava queen Draupadi. The dramatic juxtaposition of the parallel events generates anticipation of serious treatment of the subject, and justice.

But instead of dealing with the trauma of a minor rape survivor who realizes she is pregnant on waking up from a coma six months later, the narrative gets into a detailed depiction of how public prosecutor Ritabrata Baidya (Mukherjee) defeats advocate Rittik (Gaurav) who is representing Piyali’s petition to abort the unwanted child.

Baidya is assisted by Aratrika (Sarkar), the estranged wife of Rittik, who scoffs at her for not supporting him 'on humanitarian grounds'. The reason for their separation is revealed much later.

However, Piyali’s helplessness touches Aratrika and she becomes determined to lend her and her unborn child security. Her efforts brings her closer to Rittik again and the narrative then goes on to how the reunited lawyer couple defeats Baidya with their petition.

All the while you are left wondering: what about the rapists? That chapter is ignored entirely as the media and the country focus on securing the future of Piyali’s child. In the end, when enough narrative space has been given to all the artistes, including Mitra, who plays a nonprofit activist, the director ends the film by uniting Baidya, Rittik and Aratrika into a group of warriors pledged to find the wrongdoers and bring them to justice.

Besides the lack of a proper storyline, the film incorporates unnecessary melodramatic sequences of Piyali’s father demolishing idols of goddesses created by him and Baidya being opposed by his own daughter with no good objective. The ending is dragged out, too.

Gaurav’s performance as a compassionate lawyer and Mukherjee’s undaunted act of a shrewd lawyer doing his job are the only points that make the film bearable. The veteran Sabyasachi Chakraborty is good as a judge with clarity of thought and orders. While Mitra’s character doesn't have a proper narrative arc, she delivers a decent performance as an activist battling for Piyali’s rights.

Sudipta Majumdar’s cinematography creates dramatic tension in the rape sequences and retains the seamlessness of a courtroom drama. But editor Supriyo Saha could have easily trimmed some of the sequences to make the film less exhausting.

Pratik Kundu’s background score is unnecessarily overpowering. However, the songs rendered by Ananya Chakraborty, Akriti Kakkar and the music director himself are soothing.

The film's plot only serves the purpose of educating the audience about some important laws. Otherwise, it does no justice to a sensitive topic that deserved serious discussion.


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