The embattled filmmaker who is stuck in the Nirbhaya documentary controversy lives in Birmingham, UK. If you can say “Leslee Udwin” in the first breath, “East is East” would be the second one. An actress to begin with, after attaining fame in her work, she switched to production. A prominent personality among the NRIs and feminists in UK. Since that movie won her a BAFTA award in 1999, which was her first turning point in her career as it was her first feature film as a producer. Leslee’s other works includes West is West, Mrs Ratcliffe’s revolution, Merchant of Venice (actress).
The second turning point comes now while debuting as a director, when she is set to air her documentary “India’s Daughter” which is based on the 2012 Delhi gang rape case. After The Daily Telegraph released excerpts of her documentary containing the interview of Mukesh Singh, an unrepentant criminal who was involved in the rape that invoked India’s resentment. The outrage was not just for Mukesh, but also towards the documentary for providing a platform to a criminal who showed no remorse to the Nirbhaya.
Mukesh’s views send chills down the spine as he says "a girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy."
"When being raped, she shouldn't fight back. She should just be silent and allow the rape. Then they'd have dropped her off after 'doing her', and only hit the boy." This statement was enough to provoke women groups across the country, where they feel that providing such platforms will only hurt the present crisis of gender inequality. Through Mukesh’s comments we can identify that he has no intention to change or at least review his thoughts and actions. This could possibly hinder his appeal against his death sentence.
Immediately, the Government bans her documentary from being aired in the country and started probing, as to how Leslee got exclusive access to interview Mukesh in the Tihar Jail. Leslee Udwin, defends her documentary in the public interest of women in India and does not look to sensationalize the rapist’s comments. The movie supposedly shows the entire Nirbhaya incident from perspectives of the four convicted rapists and the aggrieved parents.
Leslee reportedly had panic attacks and felt as if her soul was ‘dipped in tar’ while interviewing Mukesh. Mukesh agreed for the interview after his mother insisted him. What shocks the Israel-born filmmaker is the mindset of the culprit which she wants to highlight to the world, so that she everyone can understand the genesis of gender inequality that answers a crucial question as to “Why do men rape?”
Leslee’s feminist motive is to show the dreadful truth which is prevalent among many men in India, so that the solution of the problem is figured out.
Leslee took two years to finish the documentary, hoping that the result will help people open their eyes towards this mindset. The contrary opinions are that it may suggest the poisonous mindsets of the convicts to many men.
The debate continues amidst media channels in India and even among feminist intellectuals whether such people deserve a platform and freedom of expression. On the other side, another debate prolongs whether airing the documentary is good or bad for the country.