Leslee Udwin put up India’s Daughter from different perspectives, and not to forget all these views are seen from her feminist ideology. Of course, it is tragic and difficult to hide the moist in your eyes when watching the documentary. The documentary is about a gruesome incident that occurred to a young 23-year old medical aspirant in 16 December 2012 and what entails the following two years.
Amidst the media coverage of 2012 Delhi gang rape, protests and outrage, the media did miss something very important, the genesis of the rape. Whether, the mindsets of the rapists documented by Leslee sensationalise them or not are debatable. Nevertheless, it does make us prompt ‘how one can think like this’? And ‘why are they thinking like this?’
Defining the character of Nirbhaya?
Her real name means “light of the sun”, while Nirbhaya means “brave heart/fearless” both perfectly defining the quality of her persona. Nirbhaya’s father rightfully describes her as a symbol and that in death she lit up a torch throughout the world and also used to pose questions like ‘what is the meaning of a woman?’, ‘How is she looked upon in the society?’
On one side of the documentary, it shows the outrage of people for Nirbhaya and their protest for justice and gender equality and the other side the gruesome truth of few men like Mukesh Singh and his defence lawyers making remorseless and insensitive comments blaming Nirbhaya for the “accident”.
What Rapist and His lawyer said:
Victim Parents on the interview:
A close friend to Nirbhaya gives an example that potrays a contrasting nature with remorse and care, where she stops a policeman from beating a 12-year old boy who tried to steal her purse. She tells the policeman that “This child will learn nothing from this” and goes to buy clothes and food for him and expects him never to steal again.
Exploring the reasons behind the crime
Leslee did a commendable job in exploring various reasons behind the crime, apart from patriarchy; traditional view of old Indian culture, the highlighting reason would be the attitude of some men towards all women.
A shocking moment in the film arises when Mukesh Singh says "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."
The statement widely quoted in the media received a lot of resentment leading to the film’s ban. However, when I saw it, I was stuck with the fact that Mukesh seems to be upset for being in the death row and thinks it’s all Nirbhaya’s fault and lacks even the slightest empathy for what happened to Nirbhaya. This statement is only going to act prejudicial to his appeal against death penalty in Supreme Court rather than justifying his crime.
Another shocking statement by defence lawyer AP Singh, who still stands by what he said that "...if my daughter was having premarital sex and moving around at night with her boyfriend, I would have burnt her alive. I would not have let this situation happen. All parents should adopt such an attitude."
Though Leslee’s film title ‘India’s Daughter’ may seem attributing only to Nirbhaya, she clarifies it when the wife of one of the rapist says “Am I not a daughter of Delhi too? A husband protects a wife, who will protect me?” conveying that India needs to empower women.
The filmmaker does a splendid job in covering women’s rights, judicial system on rape, death penalty, poverty and most importantly the mindsets within a 56-minute documentary. Though she may have missed a few like female foeticides, women education, acid attacks etc. The documentary does leave us scared as to ‘how can we tackle such a terrifying mindset? ‘And makes us ponder for more answers. Overall the documentary puts up a clear message of gender equality in India and across the globe and hopes for a change in the mindset.