NEW DELHI: Leslee Udwin, director of the documentary ‘India’s Daughter’, not only violated the terms of the agreement for filming inside Tihar Jail, but also terminated the contract of original co-producer Anjali Bhushan when the latter asked her to comply with the laws of the land, it has emerged.
It was Bhushan, who worked on the documentary since the beginning and her name appears on the Union Ministry of Home Affairs’ approval granted for shooting inside the jail premises.
Udwin refuted the demand of Tihar Jail authorities to hand over the un-edited footage. Bhushan said Udwin knowingly and cynically breached the conditions and undertaking under which the permission was granted. Anjali’s statement reveals Udwin also lied to the international media when she claimed that she had met all the conditions.
“It was clear right at the outset that the permission to shoot the documentary was conditional upon the viewing of the unedited footage and the final cut by the authorities. Having completed the shooting, Udwin arrogantly refused to comply,” Bhushan said in a statement.
It has come to light that after seeing snippets of the film, Tihar prison authorities had categorically stated that the comments of the convicts were objectionable. “The authorities, further, asked for the full film ie unedited film to be able to review the same in the proper context. It was reiterated that the film should not be released till it is approved by the prison authorities and the ministry,” She said. The statement further exposed Udwin’s lie that she complied with rules and had fulfilled all the contract conditions.
“When Udwin categorically refuted this demand by Tihar Jail authorities, I was horrified especially since I had repeatedly pleaded with her to comply with all the conditions and formalities. Ultimately, in September 2014, I received a letter from Udwin’s lawyers terminating our agreement. One of the grounds of termination was that my warnings had in fact led to the DG (Prisons) sending a legal notice to her company on the grounds of breach of permission granted by the jail authorities.”
A Tihar official on condition of anonymity said several reminders were sent to the filmmaker, but they did not receive any response on submission of unedited footage. Udwin avoided replying to the Tihar authorities and falsely claimed that she had offered to share the raw footage to the authorities.
Anjali said, “When I accidentally stumbled upon the fact that plans to release the documentary were afoot, I was both angry and surprised, since I had been informed that the BBC will not air the documentary until the SC hearing was over.”