Saturday, March 7, 2015

India's Daughter -- ban, revulsion and hope

It has now been conclusively proved that banning anything that can be online simply doesn't work. I am still clueless why the film -- India's Daughter, produced by Leslee Udwin for the BBC -- has been banned.

Is it because the government was angry that a foreign film producer managed to interview a convict on death row inside the Tihar Jail? If it was against law, no one knows who gave the permission and how the crew pulled it off.

I am told one reason for the ban is that the government couldn't allow a foreigner to “defame India and show Indian culture in poor light”. I doubt if there is a more lame excuse. What about the litany of crimes, of all varieties, that happen all cross the country every day? Aren't we shamed already? Is India in a cocoon that prevents the rest of the world from knowing what's happening in our country, so much so that there had to be a Leslee Udwin film to do all the damage to our culture?

Instead of banning the movie, every one from Narendra Modi downwards should watch it. Praise it or trash it – there's no rule that every one should praise the movie -- but why ban it?

Whether you agree or not with the way Udwin has made the film, it's indisputable that the documentary deals comprehensively with a very serious social malaise. The reasons for rape put forward by perverts are nothing new. But the normality of such people, showing no sign of remorse, while they justify their macabre deeds is numbing, to say the least.

One big shocker in the film are the views of the two defence lawyers. One of them likens girls to diamonds, which if left on the street would be taken away by dogs. Another says women are like flowers and they should choose be in the gutter or be in a temple to adorn a deity.

The brouhaha over the movie will die soon. But is there any way forward, to stem the slide?

My thoughts are oscillating between cynicism and hope.

The malaise is a deep-rooted one with its tentacles extending in multiple directions. Gender relations isn't so simple, and no such social problem has a ready-made or tailor-made solution. At the heart of it, is the way a man behaves with a woman. And, there are any number of influences: education, upbringing, surroundings, behaviour of friends and elders including parents, financial and living standards etc.

But I am just hoping, as awareness spreads, there will be a change, for the better. And, let that be sooner than later.


  1. I am yet to find the time to watch that documentary. But what puzzled me the most from all the reviews and blogs I read was the fact that people were shocked at the fact the convicted rapist showed no remorse.

    I have always been told growing in Switzerland that a rapist is a disturbed individual with a thirst for control and power and essentially a sociopath unable to show remorse for the crime they have comitted. So why is that such a shock to see the guy explain that he sees nothing wrong with his act? Any sane in his head man would not rape and murder to begin with. Did people really expect him to burst into tears and admit he was wrong? Really?

    Another thing that shocked me from these reviews is that no one seem to realise this is a TV documentary that is working an angle and is meant to play on emotions. Documentaries are rarely objective to begin with. Sadly many of the people I know who watched it and live outside India are now even more convinced than ever that India is entirely populated by mysoginistic men who are just waiting to see a lady clad in Jeans pass by and rape her.
    I've been living in India 11 years as a foreigner, and I haven't felt less safe that I would have in Switzerland.

    1. Thank you, Cynthia for your response. Your points are quite valid. Leave aside a rapist, rarely even a ordinary criminal would regret his act. He will have hundred justifications for his act.

      If you look at the movie from a distance, dispassionately, it's just another well-made documentary piecing together different points of view.

      Your point about you feeling no less safe here than in your home country, is a point I keep telling my friends. All societies are unsafe in their own way. Criminals aren't going to disappear. And, we need to be conscious of that.

    2. My sister got assaulted, at night in a peaceful suburban neighbourhood, 200 meters from her home in Geneva. The guy pulled her hair from a side alley and had a stocking on his head. She had her cigarette lighter in her hand and burnet his face when he started touching her. Then she ran home and the first thing she did was call the cops. The cops never questioned her motives, they filed her complaints and that was it. But some people around her decided to be smart and tell her it was not safe for a woman to be out at night. So the backward victim blaming is not even specific to India, it is everywhere. The only difference in India I think is that the judicial system is sluggish and the conviction rate lower, but that is about it. No nation is crime free. As you said we just need to be conscious of that.

    3. You are right, Cynthia.

      Besides the point you mentioned, in India, people (and by extension, the media too) don't trust the system (like the government, police, public administration etc). This not only complicates matters, but also breeds negativity.

      Probably, it's the fallout of the point you mentioned -- the State machinery is so very weak, people don't trust it. And, sadly, even if the State does well, people are only quick to find ulterior motives behind it, and don't give it any credit.