Even as India’s Daughter is being seen all over the world, back in India, numerous questions are being raised of the people behind the documentary, the processes followed, the intent and the legal poisition. We found no reason to ban the documentary based on its content, but had some issues regarding the legality of the release. Now more questions are being asked:
Although the documentary doesn’t directly indulge in stereotyping Indians as a whole as “pro-rape”, some people found its messaging subtle. Leslee Udwin’s own remarks give away her intent. In an interview to Reuters, Udwin said the following:
Q: What do you think about the portrayal of women in Bollywood?
A: I think Bollywood movies are pornography. I think that women are objectified. It’s all part of this disease, this culture.
Even on the show on NDTV, Udwin remarked that the Rapist’s defence that he raped her to “teach her a lesson” for roaming out at night, “is what most people think in the society“.
In this piece, Lawyer Amba Salelkar raise very important questions regarding the procedures followed by Udwin. She says she “is struggling to find the appropriate provisions under which such a procedure is authorised”. She also wonders if this interview of the rapist was shot in the presence of jail officials, because then it could change the legal nature of confession, and could affect the case in progress in the Supreme Court. She also questions whether “the accused given to understand the nature of the interview and the repercussions it could have on his case?”
Coming to the rapist and his interview, it has now come to light that he was paid Rs 40000 by Udwin for his statements. It has been reported that he initially asked for Rs 2 lacs, but eventually settled for Rs 40000. Given that he was paid for this, is it possible he was “told” what to say and what not to say? The rapist’s repeated usage of the word “juvenile” has already raised doubts on his being tutored, and this cash paid to him, has compounded the doubt.
Even the guidelines of BBC themselves are against such payments to criminals: “The BBC does not normally make payments to criminals, or to former criminals, who are simply talking about their crimes“. If so, was BBC aware that Udwin had paid the Rapist? All this needs to be checked and investigated.
Lawyer Manoj Ladwa has also asked a series of important questions to NDTV regarding the broadcast of the documentary. Ladwa claims there was UK legal advice to not show the documentary before Indian Supreme Court verdict. He also raises valid points whether by selling the rights to BBC and NDTV, had Udwin violated the condition agreed by her that the documentary was only for social, non-commercial purposes.
Not only this, Udwin’s Indian collaborator on the project, Anjali Bhushan has reportedly written a stinging open letter making her stand clear. Bhushan says the project was ” overshadowed by the self-promoting agenda of” Udwin by “her attempt to exploit the subject matter of the documentary in a self-advancing attempt to sensationalize the content”. Bhushan also says that “Ms. Udwin knowingly and cynically breached the conditions and undertakings under which the permissions were granted.”
And why did Udwin have an Indian collaborator? Because as per this report, government rules state that a foreign filmmaker is not allowed entry inside an Indian prison. Udwin chose Bhushan as a partner to circumvent this rule and later dumped Bhushan when she raised various objections. The same report also mentions Udwin created a series of “shell” firms to “hide hide something on the UK joint venture”. ‘Apricot Sky Entertainment’ owned by Bhushan, which was originally mentioned in the papers is now missing from the official credit list and replaced by ‘Tathagat Films’. The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has no records of ‘Tathagat Films’ but there are 3 production houses running by that name in Mumbai and Delhi.