Nirbhaya Documentary: A Lost Opportunity?


They say cinema reflects is the mirror of the society. Do we want to break the mirror just because we do not like the reflection?

This was the fundamental question raised by the Leslee Udwin’s documentary on the December 2012 gang rape case. Nirbhaya has been accepted as the daughter of the nation but her reality has been tried to be pushed into a shell.

Various arguments on the image of India on the global platform have pestered India’s concerned ministers.  The ban on the documentary and the court orders to take it down from Youtube have, if nothing, presented an insecure image of India. Amidst exploring the dark side of the documentary, a comment India can be proud of has been completely ignored. Udwin in one of her interviews with the Indian media mentioned that she chose India for her documentary after being impressed by the people taking to the streets expressing their outrage. She clearly mentions that there was no other place where she had witnessed such a fight for justice.

Above all, the varieties of voices in the documentary justify the motive.  The documentary had a friend who appreciated the courage Nirbhaya held till the end, parents who held their heads in pride to have a daughter impacting so many lives and a rapist who was still convinced he had done what was the best.

As a member of the audience, I have a power of interpretations which asks for some responsibility. To interpret it, we need to understand the cause of the documentary rather than lose an opportunity to introspect the situation over shallow ego clashes.

The advent of the idea to locate the root causes of rapes and violence against the weaker sections should be welcomed. The idea is to bring in the mental blockage into consideration. Udwin gave the statement, “Nobody is a born criminal”, a breathing space by throwing light on the necessitous lifestyle of the rapists which in some way contribute them to be the anti social elements.

More than the criticism, there are some questions which need to be entertained. The sour mentality of Mukesh Singh, one of the rapists, after spending almost two years in the jail raises serious doubt on the rehabilitation and counselling process in the jail administration. With one female raped in every 20 minutes, the statistics need deep and immediate attentions which were sadly diverted on saving the reputation of the nation. If Udwin can appreciate the protests in India, I am sure that India will be showered with esteem, if ready to accept the reality no matter how dark it is.

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Punita Maheshwari


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