India’s Daughter. A Beverly Hills screening. Sandwiched between luxury and an exhibit featuring CSI: Las Vegas we watched one of the most traumatic documentaries I have seen: India’s Daughter directed by Leslee Udwin.
The documentary details the tragic story of the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh, a bright young woman who was brutally tortured then left for dead on the side of the road. The rape ignited massive protests across India and an global outcry about rape and women’s rights. The Indian government became so concerned about the film they directed Youtube and other online outlets, including UrbanAsian.com, to block the video.
Leslee was at home in the UK when news broke about the brutal rape of Jyoti Singh by 6 men in Delhi, India. Jyoti was returning from watching a movie with a friend, celebrating her final exams from years of hard work in medical school. Years of hard work that would forever end that night. Her life may have been taken but her legacy of survival and the outrage that sparked huge protests around India gives her name something with meaning and purpose.
The focus of the documentary is not entirely on the rape, but about how women are treated in parts of India, and even around the world. Leslee interviews Lawyers, the families of the accused and others. There is a clear tone of patriarchy said by many. Such as A. P. Singh, a defense lawyer in the case, was 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.”
What I find disturbing about this documentary is the candid interviews with Mukesh Singh, one of the rapists. Mukesh showed no expression of sorry or remorse. Recanting how a woman is not sacred when they are out alone with another man like this. During the Q&A Leslee mentioned that after 30 hours of footage interviewing the rapists, none of them ever felt or said anything that resembled sorrow for taking this young woman’s life with such brutality. Only Mukesh talked about the rape. The others denied it ever happened.
After the screening, Leslee spoke with such energy and candidness about her drive to make this world a better place. This tragedy was a catalyst for her to focus on empowering children through education and start really pushing for change. I wholeheartedly agree that change will only take place when we educate and empower the ones that need it the most.
Though the film is difficult to watch because of the brutality and the subject, I encourage everyone to take the time and support the film while it tours the film festivals. Let’s hope for change.
The film will be shown around the US with openings New York and Los Angeles.