12 Angry Men and Ek Ruka Hua Faisla

Posted on February 10, 2011

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12 Angry Men is a classic in every sense of the word. I saw this film a second time immediately after the first viewing (2 minutes, to be precise) — I couldn’t believe it could be so good and I am happy to report that it is that good. The urgency of the social, moral and emotional issue at the heart of this film is brilliantly brought forward through the use of the jury room where there is no escape from the oppressive heat, claustrophobia and moral responsibility. The 12 jurors have no way out but to examine the facts thoroughly before they decide the future of an 18-year-old boy.

But facts are never as simple as they are made out to be. And this is what the 12 men learn. The film not only probes the nature of objective truth but also how it is impossible to take away human perception and prejudice from the whole equation.

The performances are top-notch. The writing is brilliant. The direction is flawless. Need I say more?

I strongly felt I had to see the Hindi version of 12 Angry Men and I now wish I hadn’t.

I can understand why Basu Chatterjee wanted to bring this story to the Indian audience even though we don’t have the jury system. Ek Ruka Hua Faisla is a frame-to-frame copy of the masterpiece and yet, it lacks the impact of the original.

The stifling heat and claustrophobia of the original is missing; instead, the jury room is airy and quite large, so when the characters complain about the heat, it’s unconvincing. While the original never showed us the railway tracks or what the two witnesses looked like, here we get to see them. Minus points for Chatterjee.

The acting ranges from good to unbearable (Anu Kapoor and Pankaj Kapoor).

Pankaj Kapoor is such a brilliant actor that watching him I was reminded of what Al Pacino said — even the best of actors (including Pacino, might I add) cannot avoid overacting because they are so caught up in the moment that they cannot view what they are doing objectively. According to Pacino, it is at times like these that the director should step in and provide a perspective. How I wish Basu Chatterjee had done the same. Pankaj Kapoor plays the character in such an exaggerated fashion that I felt I was looking at a caricature of a bigot rather than a father struggling to cope with his son’s betrayal. However, Kapoor redeems himself in the final 5 minutes when his character talks about his life and the unbearable loneliness. Those few minutes are heartbreaking. The less said about Anu Kapoor the better. Couldn’t they find an old actor to play the part?

My advice for what it’s worth is go watch the original rather than this watered-down version.

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