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One Day Justice Delivered, Review: Perhaps, but not today

One Day Justice Delivered, Review: Perhaps, but not today

A judge dispensing justice by extra-judicial means immediately after retirement is not a common theme in Hindi films, and the novelty is undeniable. Sadly, that is just about where the merits of this film rest. Actors ham, the script meanders, co-incidences abound, dialogue disappoints and the climactic twist is of no consequence. One Day Justice Delivered espouses a noble cause but does more disservice than service to it.

Ranchi High Court Judge Tyagi is upset that he could not deliver justice in some instances because of lack of evidence, and it is too late now, because he has retired. One of the first things he does after retirement is to buy five jumbo rolls of barbed wire. Shortly after that, his daughter is married to a hotelier, a profession his son too follows. Several dignitaries attend the lavish ceremony. Soon afterwards, a young man rushes to a police station, complaining that his parents, the doctor couple Ajay Chopra and Reena Chopra, have gone missing. They were last seen at the Tyagi wedding. Inspector Sharma and Inspector Vijay start an investigation, but all they find are the cell phones of the couple, in a forest. Investigations are going nowhere, and the Superintendent of Police (SP) gets agitated. Local Member of Parliament, Rawat, vents his ire too.

Another disappearance is reported soon afterwards, when a hotelier, Pankaj Singh, who was returning from Kolkata, by train, goes missing. By this time it is revealed that the kidnapper is Justice Tyagi, who captures and holds his victims at a deserted house, far from civilization. He ties them with the barbed wire he has bought in the beginning of the film. As Judge, he had heard cases against them, but they were all dismissed, on account of lack of evidence, or witnesses turning hostile. Convinced that they were guilty, he now wants to extract confessions out of them, under various forms of torture, so that they can be punished for their crimes.

The doctors had murdered a patient because he could provide evidence against an influential person, who was responsible for a bomb blast in a Ranchi market. He was himself badly bruised, but would have recovered, had the doctors not conspired to poison his intravenous drip. Traumatised by her son’s death, the mother accosts Judge Tyagi and slaps him just outside his court, in full public view, accusing him of corruption. It was this slap that shook the conscience of Tyagi, but he had to wait till he was not a judge anymore, to help dispense real justice. More will be brought to book, for Tyagi has reason to believe that others were involved in the conspiracy too.

Meanwhile, Crime Branch, Delhi’s operative Laxmi Rathi nabs a criminal right in front of Tyagi in Kolkata, where he had gone to meet his daughter’s in-laws. Both parents were having a drink in a night-club when, dressed as a cabaret dancer and singing the title song of the film, Rathi arrested the mobster. It was on the way back from Kolkata that Tyagi spiked Pankaj’s drink and offloaded him from the train, taking him to his remote hideout. Unimpressed with the crawling progress of the case, the SP transfers Inspector Vijay to an insurgency infested area and asks Sharma to serve under Laxmi Rathi, who is coming down from Delhi, to take over the case.

One Day Justice Delivered is written by Alaukik Rahi (wrote and directed Pitamah; lyrics for several films, TV serials and music albums), who has also penned the lyrics. While the lyrics are passable, his screenplay is weak and flawed. It seems that he was unable to decide whether this should be a vigilante film or a political conspiracy or a cops versus criminals action drama or an indictment of the justice system. It ends-up being all of the above, in abysmally disproportionate manner.

Kidnapping persons was never as easy as has been depicted here. How could an honest judge, who is troubled by one slap, acquire skills of rendering people unconscious, kidnapping, holding them against their will, torturing them, etc. remains a mystery. Yes, he had an accomplice, but that is not enough to explain his expertise. Again, why does only one case of injustice bother him? It does not take rocket science to surmise that a dozen or more cases before him would have left the criminals unpunished. Why is he not bothered about them? Is the slap the only incentive? Will he not regret his inaction in the other matters where perpetrators went scot-free?  

Investigations conducted by Rathi show only one instance of torture to attract a confession. In all other cases, she merely asks the accused, albeit authoritatively, and the facts come gushing forth. Hospital scenes are puerile while the courtroom proceedings fatuous. Tyagi and Singh are both well off, so why do they travel in trains and not by air? How easily did Tyagi manage to get a seat on the same train, in the same coach as Pankaj, although his Kolkata travel plan was a last minute development? Since when has smoking been allowed on trains, especially in first class coupés? What if Singh had refused the spiked orange juice offered to him by Tyagi? What if someone had seen them, while he was dragging the unconscious Pankaj and getting off the train? Tyagi remains away from his family for hours on end, probably taking his car, yet raises no suspicion.  

Ashok Nanda (Trapped in Tradition: Rivaaz, Hum Tum Aur Mom: Mother Never Misguides, Firedancer) is unable to make his actors perform naturally. They are either flat or over-the-top. How is it that Rathi keeps changing from speaking in a Haryanvi dialect, in pure Hindi and in good English, for no apparent reason? If it was pre-ordained that the film will end in a vigilante mode, the entire purpose of extracting confessions on camera was defeated. What was the need for the massacre when confessions had already been obtained? If it was the fear that they will buy their way out, then closing the chapter on one case would hardly serve any purpose in the larger context. And how would anyone hope to get away so many killings, all resulting from wounds inflicted by bullets fired from the same gun?

Anupam Kher as Retired Judge Tyagi just about manages by the skin of his teeth to avoid hamming. He resorts to a blank expression when confronted with highly disturbing news, which is in keeping with his put-on act, but should have aroused the suspicion of lawmen even more. As the bomb blast witness Abdul’s mother, old-timer Zarina Wahab, has reason to go over the top, and she does a good job of it. Esha Gupta (Raaz 3D, Chakravyuh, Rustam) is cast as Ms. Everything: cabaret dancer, fisticuff exponent, brilliant investigator and you name it. It is difficult to accept such a police official as real. Looks like Rajesh Sharma and Kumud Mishra will be there in every other film that comes to cinemas week after week, either as a pair or individually. Kumud Mishra, as Inspector Sharma, is learning to keep his sardonic grin in check, and that is a welcome development that will extend his acting career. Rajesh Sharma, for once, is in a negative role, as Pankaj Singh. Surprisingly, this talented actor, resorts to hamming to make an impact, though I hope he was only following orders from the director’s chair. For the umpteenth time, Zakir Hussain plays a politician, with wicked, wicked ways, and he can now sleepwalk through such roles.

As the doctor duo, Murli Sharma and Deepshikha Nagpal are not bad, though their characterisations lack credibility. Ananth Mahadevan looks jaded as the prosecuting lawyer while defence lawyer Nasirr Khan impresses. Nilofar Gesawat as Mrs. Tyagi looks convincing. As the car mechanic Afzal, Alok Pandey makes an impression, till he is subjected to torture. Irfan Razaa Khan has a smallish role as Inspector Vijay. Also in the cast are:

Anusmriti Sarkar - Shagufta

Joshi Kashyap Barbhaya - Shamim

Jayaka Yagnik - Pooja

Saavi Chauhan - Sonia

Poonam Rane - Rekha

Manoj Mishra - Dilawar

Jeeban Panda - Parvez

Akram Ali Khan - Rahul

Mohaq Kansara - Abdul

Monika Ravan - Special Appearance

Hemlata/Hema Sharma - Special Appearance

Kavya Kiran - Special Appearance

Raman Gupta - Guest Appearance

Cinematography by Indrajit Bancel/Bansel and Arvind Singh and editing by Umashankar J. Mishra are undistinguished.

One Day Justice Delivered is a utopian dream in a system that is rated high on the corruption index, and eliminating half a dozen rotten apples is not going to make an iota of difference. Films like this cannot hope to trigger debates or social awareness, yet some of them have made a good job of trying. Sloppy films in a gallant cause, on the other hand, tend to make a mockery of the malaise and its manifestation. Justice for all is a dream that all idealists hope will be realised some day on earth. But if you are watching One Day Justice Delivered, you can rest assured that today is not that day.

Rating: * ½

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGZZKd2Pwew

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About Siraj Syed

Syed Siraj
(Siraj Associates)

Siraj Syed is a film-critic since 1970 and a Former President of the Freelance Film Journalists' Combine of India.

He is the India Correspondent of FilmFestivals.com and a member of FIPRESCI, the international Federation of Film Critics, Munich, Germany

Siraj Syed has contributed over 1,015 articles on cinema, international film festivals, conventions, exhibitions, etc., most recently, at IFFI (Goa), MIFF (Mumbai), MFF/MAMI (Mumbai) and CommunicAsia (Singapore). He often edits film festival daily bulletins.

He is also an actor and a dubbing artiste. Further, he has been teaching media, acting and dubbing at over 30 institutes in India and Singapore, since 1984.


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