INDIA's DAUGHTER is the story of the short life, and brutal gang rape and murder in Delhi in December 2012 of an exceptional and inspiring young woman. The rape of the 23 year old medical student by 6 men on a moving bus, and her death, sparked unprecedented protests and riots throughout India and led to the first glimmers of a change of mindset. Interwoven into the story line are the lives, values and mindsets of the rapists whom the film makers have had exclusive and unprecedented access to interview before they hang. The film examines the society and values which spawn such violent acts, and makes an optimistic and impassioned plea for change.
Asha Devi (Herself, Jyoti Singh's mother (as Asha Singh)), Badri Singh (Himself, Jyoti Singh's father), Satendra (Himself, Jyoti Singh's tutor and close friend), Mukesh Singh (Himself, rapist), M.L. Sharma (Himself, defence lawyer for the rapists), Vinay Sharma (Himself, convicted of Jyoti Singh's rape and murder), Pawan Gupta (Himself, convicted of Jyoti Singh's rape and murder), Akshay Thakur (Himself, convicted of Jyoti Singh's rape and murder), A.P. Singh (Himself, defence lawyer for the rapists), Leila Seth (Herself - Former Chief Justice Member of Rape Review Committee), Maria Misra (Herself, writer and historian, Oxford University, Keble College (as Dr Maria Misra)), Sandeep Govil (Himself, prison psychiatris), Raj Kumar (Himself, police officer), Rashmi Ahuja (Herself, gynecologist, Safdarjung Hospital), Pramod Kushwa (Himself, Deputy Commisioner of Delhi Police), Pratibha Sharma (Herself, sub-inspector, Delhi Police), Ram Singh (Himself, main suspect of Jyoti Singh's rape and murder (archive footage)), Kavita Krishnan (Herself, secretary, All India Progressive Women's Association), Usha Saxena (Herself, Delhi resident), Shambavi Saxena (Herself, Delhi resident), Gopal Subramanium (Himself, lawyer, Justice Verma Committee), Sonia Gandhi (Herself, Indian National Congress (archive footage)), Amod K. Kanth (Himself, Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre), Sheila Dixit (Herself, Chief Minister of Delhi 1998-2013)
Leslee Udwin (writer)
Lorna Auerbach (executive producer), Peggy Cafferty (executive producer), Dibang Dibang (co-producer), Nick Fraser (executive producer), Kathleen Glynn (executive producer), Mette Heide (co-producer), Mette Hoffman Meyer (executive producer), Riddhi Jha (associate producer), Thomas A. Morgan (executive producer), Vivek Pratap (line producer)...
India'a Daughter, a documentary by Leslee Udwin (it is part of BBC's ongoing Storyville series), is based on Delhi Gang Rape of 2012. This is not my effort to review this documentary. I am just putting across my thoughts. With great angst, helplessness, lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, I watched the whole documentary. The events were reconstructed to show the incident which occurred on 16th December, 2012. I have no clue, why Indian government tried to put a ban on its release in India (it was supposed to be broadcast on 8th March, 2015 on NDTV 24 X 7 and by BBC). BBC decided to do the broadcast on 5th March, 2015. The documentary has not projected India in bad light. It has not fabricated the truth. I went through loads of emotions while watching this documentary, felt the pain of Jyoti, pain of her parents, also loads of anger towards the attitude of the guilty, and defense lawyers.
Why the hue and cry over the documentary and why the ban: The documentary states at the beginning that it has been made with the co-operation of Jyoti's parents (even reveals her name). It covers the interviews of Jyoti's parents, Mukesh (one of the guilty man), defense lawyers – ML Sharma and AP Singh, two surviving members of the JS Verma Committee set up to modify India's rape laws (after Jyoti's death), the person who first saw Jyoti and her friend lying naked and bleeding on the footpath (who got bed sheet and water from a hotel on the other side of the road), the police officers who investigated the case, the doctor who examined her, and also the families of the rapists, including the mother of the juvenile. The documentary also shows the interview of Kavita Krishnan who says, how the protests happened.
It is shocking to see Mukesh narrating the incident without any sense of guilt. No sense of regret is felt in his voice. He says that it was girl's fault. According to him, she should have been silent and allowed them to rape her. Oh my God! What a sick mentality. He says, how they threw both of them before gleefully divvying up the belongings. One rapist got a pair of shoes, another scored a jacket. An item which was left behind was probably her intestines which they wrapped in a piece of cloth and pitched it through the window. Mukesh even argues that the death penalty for rape could only be bad news for victims: "Now when they rape, they won't leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. Especially the criminal types." He is sitting very coolly without any visible expressions, when he was read out the list of Jyoti's injuries – from bite marks to the removal of her intestines. Flicker of a smile playing on his lips actually irritated me. It is unnerving to see this unfazed Mukesh looking into the camera and narrating the happenings of that night as if he was narrating some film story. His manner of describing his fellow convicts and also about his dead brother and reiterating the thought that they needed to teach the girl and the boy a lesson is absolutely disgusting. This unapologetic misogyny is so disturbing.
Another shocking thing was responses from the defense lawyers - ML Sharma and AP SIngh. Their biases and prejudices are disturbing. No identity for females of their own according to these lawyers. They describe women in terms as disparate as diamonds, food and flowers – objectifying the female fraternity. Look at ML Sharma's analogies and logics: "She should not be put out on the street just like food. The 'lady' in the other hand, we can say the 'girl' or the 'woman', are more precious than a gem, that a diamond. It is up to you how you want to keep the diamond in your hand. If you put the diamond on the street, certainly the dog will take it out. You can't stop it." AP Singh is shown saying: "If my daughter or sister engaged in pre- marital activities and disgraced herself and allowed herself to lose face and character by doing such things, I would most certainly take this sort of sister or daughter to my farmhouse, and in front of my entire family, I would put petrol on her and set her alight." Asked later if he stood by those comments, he insisted that he did. Do they even deserve to be lawyers?
It is so painful to see Jyoti's parents Asha Singh and Badri Singh. Jyoti was the light of their lives, and now they don't have clue, how to move ahead and leave behind the tragic death of her daughter. They are simply inconsolable. Her father Badri Singh tells Udwin: "I wish that whatever darkness there is in the world should be dispelled by this light." In spite of the fact that Indian government has banned this documentary to be broadcast in India, Badri Singh tells NDTV that everyone must see 'India's Daughter'.
A few thoughts: The tragedy is, no change has happened even after this Nirbhaya incident. Reports say that a girl / woman is raped every 20 minutes. Leslee Udwin has not shown that there is some easy answers or quick fix solutions to this. Justice Leila Seth puts it across so aptly that change is not impossible. Education is the answer, sure, and hope is something that we haven't completely done away with. For there's nothing that a person is not capable of – one just needs to strike the correct notes.
India's Daughter has lot of moist eyes moments. Just an attempt to compile my thoughts after watching the documentary with a great lump in my throat.
Filha da Índia (Brazil) • Indiens dotter (Finland (Swedish title); Sweden) • Intian tytär (Finland) • Delhi Nirbhaya (India (alternative title) (English title)) • Fiica Indiei (Romania) • Дочь Индии (Russia)
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