Seeing the recent JNU protests and arrests, my mind goes back to two of the most important films of my life. The films were – The Wrong Man and Ek Ruka Hua Faisla

With ‘The Wrong Man’ Alfred Hitchcock had tried to serve a different dish to his audiences. Sadly, he failed. The king of suspense was expected to tell only mysteries and thriller through his films. The film has suddenly come into relevance for me. While watching the whole JNU episode in which the police picked Kanhaiya Kumar from JNU campus and people engulfed by nationalism called him a traitor without a single question springing in their mind, I began to picture some scenes from ‘The Wrong Man’. Those scenes in which Manny played by the legendary Henry Fonda is picked up by the police mistakingly.  

Henry Fonda and Vera Miles in "The wrong Man"- Bollywoodirect
Henry Fonda and Vera Miles in “The wrong Man”

It happens when Manny goes to his bank to apply for a loan and the bank employee finds Manny’s face and dressing matching with a criminal who attacked her some months back. In fear, she yells at him. All the other employees come to her and the police is called. The next moment, Manny finds himself in a jail.

He tries to convince the police, the woman bank employee who had put the blame and the other employees of the bank that he is not a criminal. But nobody tries to believe him. In everyone’s perspective, he is a villain,a criminal.

Perspective! Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Wrong Man’ was all about perspective. The film questions on yours and mine perspective in looking at things. Was it your perspective which believed that Manny was a criminal or was it someone else’s? That someone else could be anyone. It could be a gang on social media, your neighbour or may be the news anchor who is shouting enormously on the screen.

One woman finds Manny a criminal and Manny becomes a criminal the next second. Without any second thought, any rethinking, everyone has reached the conclusion.

At JNU, they picked up the wrong man. In spite of getting after those who are alleged defaulters, police picked up Kanhaiya Kumar- the man who wanted to stop his loved university from getting defamed unnecessarily. Nationalism was at work over there but in the wrong direction.

The only difference between the ‘The Wrong Man’ and the present JNU scenario is the intention behind putting the blame. In the film, the woman mistakingly sends Manny to jail. At JNU, it was not a mistake but an intentional game plan. But let’s not get into it. The bigger questions are – why are we in so much hurry in declaring judgements? Do we know that because of our impulsiveness, someone is taking advantage for their politics?

Are we ready debate on an issue before reaching a conclusion? And this question brings me to other favourite film – Basu Chatterjee’s Ek Ruka Hua Faisala. This film was a copy of Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men. The tagline of the film in itself is a lesson. It says ‘Life in their hands, death in their minds’. Relate the tagline with the present scenario where everyone is after Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid (even if he is a traitor, let’s prove he is the one and not be depended upon some video clips and media to prove his guilt). Relate the tagline to the group of lawyers who attacked the journalists inside Patiala House Court. Relate the line with the plethora of social media comments which read ‘Kill the traitors’.

A scene from Ek Ruka Hua Faisla
A scene from Ek Ruka Hua Faisla

Now let’s come back to the film. Ek Ruka Hua Faisla involves the greats of the hindi film industry- KK Raina, Annu Kapoor, Pankaj Kapoor coming together in one film. The film is about a boy who allegedly has killed his father. The court has left the right to take the final call of the case on 12 men only after discussing all the aspects of the case. The 12 men are locked in a room to discuss.

Even before the start of the discussion, 11 of them have already made their mind – the kid is guilty. He should be sent to jail. All the witnesses are against him. There is a strong list of evidences against him. There is no question why he should be set free. The kid is a danger to the society, they said. All the men in the room share the same opinion except one.

Juror No. 8 played by KK Raina, stands and says, “I want to debate. I am not saying the Kid is not guilty but I dare to disagree that he is guilty. The court has given us the responsibility to take a very important decision and we ought to take it seriously.”

Juror No 8 is what all we need to be. Debate. Think. Rethink. Because even the truth needs a debate.

Written By – Shubham Pandey

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