Celebrated Malayalam superstar Mohanlal delivers a praiseworthy performance as retired advocate Vijayamohan in Neru. Directed by Jeethu Joseph, the film is centered around the courtroom trial of a rape victim. After a blind girl was assaulted at her own house, she sought justice from the court. The accused belonged to an influential family, and they tried to bribe their way out of it. Anaswara Rajan is impactful as the resilient Sara Mohammed, who did not give up on the fight even when her world came crashing down. Neru brings forth the trauma experienced by the victim not just during the incident but also in the courtroom, where her character is assassinated at every given moment. Will the one with wealth win the case, or is there still hope for justice?
How was the accused identified?
After the age of twelve, Sara lost her eyesight, but over the years, her other senses grew stronger. The perpetrator tried to take advantage of her condition, knowing that she would be unable to identify him. But Sara was a skilled sculptor, and when she realized she had no choice but to comply, she traced the face of the rapist. While the police assumed it to be a dead case, Sara proved them wrong with the sculpture of the perpetrator. Sara’s parents recognized the face, and they informed the police that he was a friend of their neighbor, Vinod. The day before the incident, he had come to their home, asking for directions. Vinod disclosed the name of his friend, and the police arrested Michael at the airport. Sara identified Michael during the identification parade. Through the news channels, Sara’s parents found out that Michael Joseph was the son of Mumbai-based businessman Christopher Joseph. Michael was engaged to be married to the Home Minister’s daughter. While the world sympathized with Sara, Muhammed’s ex-wife and their two sons rejoiced after hearing the news. They believed it was Muhammed’s decision to remarry that resulted in Sara’s misfortune.
Michael’s father appointed celebrated defense advocate Rajashekhar. He suggested settling the case by offering the victim’s family compensation. Muhammed’s sons tried to convince their father to accept the money, but he refused to do so, and it was decided that they would fight the case in court.
How was Advocate Vijaymohan convinced to take the case?
The public prosecutor who was initially appointed to the case was unprepared and failed to provide a valid argument to reject the bail plea. Michael was granted bail, and Muhammad realized that they needed a better advocate willing to take the case. The investigating officer, CI Paul Varghese, suggested they reach out to Vijayamohan. It had been years since he had stopped practicing, and even though he provided valuable suggestions in several recent cases, he no longer made appearances in court. Paul and Ahaana requested Vijayamohan to become the Special Public Prosecutor in the case since no one else was willing to take it up due to Rajashekhar and the CJ group’s influence. Vijayamohan did not consider himself eligible to take the case, and his history with Rajashekhar made the situation all the more complicated. But Ahaana refused to give up, and she decided to introduce Vijayamohan to Sara in the hopes that it would change his mind. Vijayamohan clearly stated that he would not be taking up the case when he met Sara, but it was her confidence in herself and her sheer determination to get justice that inspired Vijayamohan. He was not ready to fail Sara, and he was also triggered upon hearing the insensitive remarks that the defense lawyer blatantly made.
Vijayamohan started his career as a junior lawyer under Advocate Rajashekhar. But he soon made it to the top, and Rajashekhar became envious of him. Vijayamohan’s relationship with his daughter, Poornima, also troubled the senior lawyer. Ahaana was appointed as a session clerk during the time, and Vijayamohan had borrowed court documents from her. Even though such documents are not meant to be taken along, Ahaana trusted Vijayamohan and did not hesitate to offer him help. But unfortunately, Vijayamohan had lost the documents, and the word started to spread. It resulted in Vijayamohan’s suspension from the bar council for five years. It was believed that Rajashekhar had plotted against Vijayamohan. After the incident, he was not offered any promising cases, and he decided to work as an adviser instead. Sara’s case was different. She needed help, but no one was willing to take up the challenge. The lack of witnesses made it all the more complicated to prove Michael guilty, but Vijayamohan was not ready to give up any time soon.
How did Vijayamohan build a case against Michael Joseph?
Rajashekhar’s tactic was to intimidate the victim and her family. He created confusion by throwing one question after another at them. It became evident to Vijayamohan that the defense council was trying to frame Sara’s stepfather as the culprit. Sara’s mother remarried when her daughter was six. Muhammed was a married man with two sons when he fell in love with Parveen, and he decided to marry her. Rajashekhar wanted the court to believe that Parveen was only after Mohammed’s wealth and that she broke apart a family to secure her future. He accused her of using her daughter to build a fake rape case to receive money as compensation. Rajashekhar also hinted at the possibility that it was Mohammed who had violated his daughter that morning and not a stranger. Sara stood her ground when Rajashekhar tried to make her feel guilty for having courage and sharing the horrifying details of the incident. Vijayamohan believed that the only way to win the case was through facts, and he made sure that the story Michael Joseph and Rajashekhar created fell apart.
Michael’s friend, Naveen, testified in court that on the day of the incident, he met Michael in Muvattupuzha around noon. They went on to have lunch at the Empire Hotel, after which they went their separate ways. Naveen remembered Michael discussing with him a party with his friends that he was about to attend in the evening. Vijayamohan demanded that the surveillance footage from the hotel be presented in court to determine if the witness was indeed telling the truth. Unfortunately, the video helped Rajashekhar prove, with evidence, that his client was innocent. Vijayamohan was in complete disbelief; he was confident that the CCTV footage would destroy the false narrative Rajashekhar had carefully built, but things did not pan out the way he anticipated they would. Upon closely observing the CCTV footage, Vijayamohan noticed a shocking detail. He successfully proved in court that the video was manipulated. Furthermore, the security company’s manager acknowledged that Rajashekhar had asked him to lie in court, and he had video proof of the defense attorney’s involvement. The judge immediately requested the bar council to inquire into the case and initiate a process against Rajashekhar. Meanwhile, the police were asked to carry out an investigation into the matter. After Rajashekhar stepped down from the case, his daughter took up the challenge.
The defense stuck to their claim that Michael left Vinod’s house on December 26th, 2022, and on the 27th, Michael ran into his friend Naveen and later attended a party. Michael’s phone location backed their story. Vijayamohan introduced Michael’s driver, Robin, in court, hoping that he would slip and that it would become easier to prove that the phone was with the driver and not with Michael. Later, during the court trial in Neru, Vijayamohan interrogated all of Michael’s friends. While they all narrated the same story, surprisingly, none of them remembered the clothes Michael was wearing that evening. After the interrogation, Vijayamohan produced a pen drive in court that proved that Robin had provided false testimony in court. The video footage captured from a dash cam showed that it was Robin who was driving the car on the day of the incident. Not only that, Vijayamohan had also discovered public documents that went on to show that Michael was a seasoned criminal. There was a prior case registered against him at the Mumbai High Court. An FIR was filed against Michael, accusing him of rape, but due to a lack of evidence, he was released.
What happened on December 27th, 2022?
On the final day of the verdict, Vijayamohan narrated what possibly transpired that morning. Michael Joseph had arrived at his friend Vinod’s house the day before the incident. While he was asking for directions to his friend’s house, he overheard the family discussing that Sara would be alone at home the next day since her parents planned on attending a wedding and their house help had to visit the bank. It can be presumed that Michael came up with the nefarious plan at that moment. He called Robin at night and instructed him to arrive at his location early the next morning. When Vinod and his family left for church, Michael met Robin and handed over his phone and the keys to his car. He asked Robin to head to the resort in Kanthalloor in his car. Michael waited for Sara to be alone at home, and when all her family members left, he sneaked into her room through the terrace. Michael was careful not to leave any fingerprints to execute his master plan. He thought he had come up with a foolproof idea, but of course he did not take into consideration the dash camera, his past case, or getting caught while attempting to manipulate evidence.
Did Sara get justice?
The defense advocate, in her closing statement, argued that Sara perhaps failed to identify the actual perpetrator, and maybe it was her father who was both the culprit and the one who sculpted the figure. Due to a lack of concrete evidence, Poornima believed the court must declare Michael innocent. When Poornima questioned Sara’s skills and her ability to replicate a face through sculpting, Vijayamohan requested the court allow Sara a chance to showcase her talent and prove the defense wrong. The judge admitted that it would be an exception, but he wanted to be completely sure before coming to a conclusion. Sara was allowed to sculpt, and the defense decided that she would get only around five minutes to touch and feel the face of the subject and that they would choose the subject for her to make sure it was a fair test. Rajashekhar appeared as the subject, and he tried to break Sara’s confidence in the five minutes he had. Even though the words affected Sara, she did not let that interfere with the task she had at hand.
During Neru‘s ending, the judge was astounded to see the exact replication of Rajashekhar’s face. There was no doubt that Sara was skilled, and it went on to prove that she had the talent to replicate the face of her perpetrator. Neru ends with the judge declaring Michael Joseph guilty of all charges. He announced life imprisonment and a fine of two lakhs for Michael, and Sara was granted victim compensation. The case helped Vijayamohan get back his confidence, and maybe he will continue to strive for justice and make court appearances. Sara decided to walk out of the courtroom without her head scarf and with her head held high. She was not ready to live a life of shame. When Sara walked out of the courtroom, the journalists waiting outside lowered their cameras and showed respect for her privacy. The trauma Sara experienced will be impossible to erase, but the court verdict made her feel hopeful about the system. Even though the defense tried to break her down, she remained strong. In the end, it was her confidence and resilience that helped her obtain justice. Neru ends on a hopeful note, where truth triumphs and wealth fails to protect the perpetrator.