Going by the current outrage against this BBC documentary & its subsequent ban by the Indian govt., I started watching this with the fear of expecting to see something offensive about the brutal gang rape incident or something offensive against my country. But as the proceeding went on, I was completely mesmerized by the hard portrayal of truth and reality, encompassing of almost all the relevant and notable people. This is without doubt one of the most terrific and marvelous pieces of documentary ever created. This documentary by Leslee Udwin (it is part of BBC’s ongoing Storyville series), is based on Delhi Gang Rape of 2012. Its hard to explain how I feel after re living the horrifying incident of December 16th, 2012 as an audience. All I can say is I am angry, helpless & can feel tears rolling down by eyes, as I watch Jyoti’s parents describe about the light the late medical student victim brought to their lives. The most shocking is to see Mukesh one of the accused narrate the whole incident without any sense of guilt, not in his voice or his eyes! He says that it was girl’s fault! According to him, she should have been silent and allowed them to rape her. Great! Wouldn’t that been so easy right? He continues gleefully about how they divided the belongings of the girl & her male friend (who was brutally beaten up). 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 future victims: “Now when they rape, they won’t leave the girl like we did. They will kill her. Especially the criminal types.” Its shamefully to realize that I belong to our country where people with such mentality survive. It is unnerving to see this unfazed Mukesh looking right into the camera and narrating the events of that night as if he was narrating some film story. His mannerism of describing his fellow convicts and also about his dead brother and his focus on the thought that they needed to teach the girl and the boy a lesson is absolutely disturbing. This unapologetic misogyny is shameful. Probably the most shocking response was from the defense lawyers – ML Sharma and AP SIngh. Their biases and prejudices are unrealistic. According to them, females in India & its culture do not have an identity of their own! They describe women as diamonds, food and flowers – objectifying the female fraternity. ML Sharma uses analogies and logic: “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? 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 so painful to see Jyoti’s parents Asha Singh and Badri Singh as they are clueless about how to move on with their lives & erase the tragic death of their 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’. Its unfortunate, that this incident has unexpectedly stirred things towards worse, as the report 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. I wont be handing out stars to this film, as it deserves much more than that! Unfortunately my country, India, is so behind in such things, for example it pays more homage & coverage to the ban on consumption of Beef or many more silly things out there ( I don’t mean to hurt religious sentiments). Crime is a crime, whether its towards a women, a child or even a man, just action needs to be taken, as we live in a democratic country, freedom is everyone’s right! Just hope and pray if not now at least in the next twenty years or so we proudly talk about our country’s justice system not just movies & cricket!