1. No One Killed Jessica
ZEE5 Original web series Kaafir is an Indo-Pak potboiler that traces the story of a Pakistani woman locked up in an Indian jail. The narrative covers the theme of India-Pakistan conflict while also underlining that humanity is the greatest religion above all. Shehnaz Akhatar, a Pakistani ends up in India, gets wrongfully accused of terrorism, raped in prison and conceives a girl Mobin. If not for advocate A.K. Sawhney, Shehnaz and her daughter Mobin would have withered away in an Indian jail. It is this real-life story that formed the basis for Bhavani Iyer‘s writing of Kaafir. The digital drama stars web debutants Dia Mirza as Kainaz Akhatar and Mohit Raina as lawyer-turned-journalist Vedant Rathod. Mohit reprises the role of advocate Sawhney who fought for Shehnaz and Mobin’s freedom and safe return to back home in Pakistan.
However, before Mohit, several actors have brought to fore the story of daring journalists who stood their ground against injustice and corruption. The harrowing 1999 Jessica Lal murder case forms the narrative of Raj Kumar Gupta-directed No One Killed Jessica. A thriller, the film is a transfixing take on the corruption in our judicial system and exploitation at the hands of powerful politicians. Rani Mukerji essays a fictional reporter Meera Gaity who brings Jessica’s murderer, the son of an influential minister to justice with the help of Sabrina Lal (Vidya Balan), Jessica’s elder sister.
Does Preity Zinta in Lakshya remind you of a famous media figure? Besides Hrithik Roshan‘s struggle to find his ‘aim’ in life and eventually lead the life of an army officer, Lakshya focuses on Preity’s character of a journalist equally. A Kargil War correspondent, the character bears a striking resemblance to Barkha Dutt who is known for her courage and confidence shown during the coverage of Kargil War.
3. Madras Cafe
Journalism ain’t all about covering high-profile parties or sting operations. Sample Nargis Fakhri in Shoojit Sircar’s 2013 outing Madras Cafe, an edge-of-the-seat thriller film that takes a deeper dive into the Sri Lankan civil war. Nargis portrays a war correspondent Jaya Sahni, who unmasks a dangerous conspiracy. According to the director, Nargis’ role was inspired by several real-life war correspondents including Anita Pratap. The movie brilliantly showcases the lengths journalists go to deliver truth, sometimes, even at the cost of their safety.
The representation of the LGBTQA community hasn’t always been an effective and efficient one in films. Hansal Mehta’s 2015 film Aligarh starring Manoj Bajpayee and Rajkummar Rao is inspired by the true story of Professor Ramchandra Siras who was expelled from Aligarh Muslim University for being homosexual. Manoj’s award-winning performance as Siras is as applaud-worthy as Rajkummar’s portrayal of Deepu Sebastian. Rajkummar plays the journalist who fought for Siras and demanded justice for the Professor.
Journalist Ashwin Sarin is well-known for exposing several scandals but is best remembered for his investigation on flesh trade. His actual report on human trafficking inspired a film Kamla starring Deepti Naval and Shabana Azmi. The film shows a Delhi-based journalist buying a girl named Kamla (Deepti Naval) and later exposes the prostitution racket during a press conference.
Initiatives by these journalists that delivered justice and promoted well-being that truly showcase the power of the press and why it is the fourth pillar of democracy.
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