Documentary Review : India’s Daughter

It’s less than 24 hours since the convicts guilty for the Nirbhaya case have been hung until death. India has been having several trending news and a rage of emotions amongst the crowd? For someone who doesn’t know what happened for this case, this documentary which is currently available in the BBC archives are a perfect depiction. Again, I would like to make it clear that is not a critical review but rather letting people know what this documentary is about and my thoughts on it as well!

Title : India’s Daughter

Country of origin : United Kingdom

Language : English, Hindi

Directed by : Leslie Udwin

Written by : Leslie Udwin

Produced by : Leslie Udwin

Music : Krsna Solo

Cinematography : Abhay Anand

Production companies : Assassin Films, Tathagat Films

Released : 4 March 2015

Duration : 63 minutes

This documentary is based on the “2012 Gang Rape Case” also known by many other names including the “Nirbhaya case”, was a case involving the gang rape and fatal assault of a 23-year old female physiotherapy intern along with her male friend. Her fried suffered non-fatal injuries but was knocked unconscious by the assailants.

The victim and her friend were traveling back home after a movie at around 8 pm, and boarded a private bus that claimed to be going the way they wanted to. Eventually the bus detoured and on seeing that the windows were being closed, the couple questioned the assailants who taunted them on why they were out late just the two of them, this eventually led to an argument and a fight and the male friend was knocked unconscious. The victim was dragged to the back of the bus and raped, and severely injured which included gruesome injuries internally in the abdomen region to an old L-shaped metal rod, that was used.

The two were then left on the road and was later taken to the hospital, but the victim eventually succumbed to her injuries..

The case led to a national outrage in India with many major cities in India having endless protests for days at an end due to the lack of protection and security that women have in the country. On a more personal account I remember just days after the incident my school had an assembly in the morning where we prayed and took an oath for the safety of women and children. It was a movement unlike anything seen before. People were shocked and horrified that such a gruesome act could happen in the capital of the country.

Eventually the police were able to capture with the help of dentla fixtures, highway cctb footage and other evidences the 5 adult assailants and the then juvenile victim were arrested and the trials started for the same.

The filmmaker Leslie Udwin felt an interest in the national outrage at this incident and felt the interest to make this documentary film on the same.

The story was planned to be aired by the BBC as part of it’s series “Storyville” that showed some of the best and well known documentaries. This particular documentary has footage of the victim’s parents who recounted the victim’s youth and story until college, details of the victim’s personal traits by her tutor friend from home and also an interview with one of the assailants who drove the bus during the attack – Mukesh Singh, amongst other footage of the other assailants except the juvenile victim whose identity was protected. The film also has footage from the lawyers who were representing the offenders and other specialists like activists, psychologists, police representatives amongst others.

The first part of the film provides details on the actual incident and also an intro into the victim and her childhood amongst others. The film also concentrates on the patriarchal mindset of the society in India and how little of a place that a woman actually has in India. It provides a Stark reality on millions of women and what they are forced to go through just because they happen to be a woman.

Now the film was shot during the early trials of the case, and of course things are quite different today. No, not in how women are perceived but in the verdict of the case. As I mentioned in the beginning of the case , the victim’s have been hung until death less than 24 hours ago. Also, the juvenile victim was tried and found guilty for his charges and served the then maximum sentence of 3 years and now lives under another identity given by the government.

The film also focuses on the efforts of the committee that was formed to reform the laws of India related to such crimes. After reviewing nearly 80,000 petitions many changes including changes in the rules fir juveniles, fast track courts for such cases have been implemented.

This documentary also stirred quite a bit of controversy in India with it not being allowed to air in the country on the set date of International Women’s Day. This was due to non- concurrence with the government, the accusations of the victim being paid for the interview amidst many other things. The film was however aired in other countries and was also made available on YouTube but later blocked in India by the order of the government.

Now apart from the documentary, now that it’s almost 8 years since this incident has happened I can tell you that the shock waves and effect that it still has on the morale of civil society has not decreased one bit. Have I lost hope in my country ever coming out of this? No I haven’t. As much as I see bad things , crimes, incidents, statements, and discrimination there are also some things that shine out as glimmers of hope that some day things will get better.

One thing to be noted is that the documentary also focuses on the lives and upbringings of the cuplrits as well and how that could have possibly affected the sheer brutality of the crime. Now from a moral and human perspective , I too am outraged and do not feel that those reasons would be enough to justify the brutality involved. At the same time we must understand that yes, issues such as poverty, lack of education and so many other things are also important factors that can be taken away from this.

It’s high time we stop a patriarchal method of thinking. This is not just for the rights of women, but also issues if toxic masculinity etc faced by our male counterparts as well. I think it’s high time we educate ourselves that a woman dressing inappropriately or not knowing her place or time for her to be anywhere, to study, to react, to work and just live with freedom is not right. There’s so much that can be said for this honestly but above all, I wish for better days to come!

Also : totally unrelated to this review, we are also gripped by the global crisis that is being spread the COVID-19. I hope everyone is safe, please stay at home, please support the people who are working tirelessly to eradicate this by maintaining hygiene and best practices and staying at home! Stay safe everyone!

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