As I sat watching India’s Daughter: The Story Of Jyoti Singh not at a theater but on YouTube I couldn’t help but feel a constant sting of having to watch 4 if not 5 rapist and knowing that they had done the unspeakable and yet having the audacity to speak about it in a way as if they had done a good turn. I also had to sit and watch two advocates spit out (in the crudest and below par English that you will hear in a long time), statements about our culture which is as true as me being the King of the World. There was a ghastly feel and anger in their statement which I couldn’t help but feel disgusted by. They knew what the men had done and they were still justifying it. Defense Advocates they are, but will they do the same for men who raped one of their own Keith and keen?
India’s Daughter: The Story Of Jyoti Singh, 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. The film successfully presents both sides of the story with vivid and clear background of the perpetrators as well as the victim. The film dwells into details about what exactly happened that night, explained here by the man who had actually committed the ghastly act. Unraveling the incident through a series of interviews and stock footages of the bus with very little made up action, the documentary constantly keeps a real feel about it which goes on to leave a lasting impression on you. As the interviews start flowing, the film takes a turn to the shocking specially in the speeches of the two advocates who go to great lengths to justify the ghastly act.
The film also closely follows the life and times of the family members of the four implicated. Towards the end, the film brings out the say and feelings of those family members who are distraught at the quick punishment meted out to the men. The wife of one such accused refuses to believe the charges levied on her husband. The film makers have had exclusive and unprecedented access to interview the rapist before they hang. The film examines the society and values which spawn such violent acts, and makes an optimistic and impassioned plea for change. What works well for the documentary apart from the fact that it has its heart in the right place, is that it presents the truth without taking any side and lets the audience decide for themselves.
The only minus for the documentary is the way in which one of the victim’s friend is interviewed. He speaks in a tone and manner in which every word he says feels scripted. If only they had omitted his part or at least asked him to be natural, it would have done the film a world of good. Even when he is saying something tragic about Jyoti, his speech feels scripted and unnecessarily poised. The film would be well served if they could get the interview of the guy who was with Jyoti that night. That is one interview which could clarify a few more questions about the incident. Apart from that, the director gets it spot on.
To be able to compress such a complicated and issue within one hour getting in all the details and presenting two sides of the story is a “hell bravura” performance. I am shocked and perplexed at the documentary being banned in India by a court. Its like shunning out the voice of democracy. I couldn’t find a single reason in the documentary to shut it down. Neither does it take sides not does it ridicules the government. It just shows what was shot and is for real. We have seen similar scenes before and now that the girl is dead and her parents have consented to her identity being reveled the last obstacle in the path of its wide release is no more. By letting people see this documentary, the government would only have some well placed opinions to share and lesser hate blogs to deal with. Overall a thought provoking and well made film which must be seen by one and all.