EXCLUSIVE: India’s Daughter, Leslee Udwin’s documentary about the rape and murder of a young medical student which was banned in India just two days before it was to broadcast there, will be released theatrically in the U.S. this week by Paladin Pictures. This is a film that both Meryl Streep and Sean Penn have gotten behind as well as Frieda Pinto who is one of its producers. It opens in New York this week and in L.A. next weekend. This is an exclusive clip of the film.
The film tells the story of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student from New Delhi whose parents sold their ancestral land to put her through school and was on her way back from seeing Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi in theaters when she was brutalized. The attack occurred on a bus where she was dragged to the rear of the vehicle, repeatedly gang raped and eviscerated with an iron rod damaging her internal organs. Her male companion was severely beaten. The crime shocked the country. Singh hung on for 13 days before she died from her injuries. Her tragic death raised the fury of Indian women and men alike, and New Delhi saw an explosion of public outrage that resulted in a month of unprecedented mass street protests throughout the nation, and a government crackdown with water cannons and tear-gas.
One of the film’s most astonishing scenes is a confession by one of the perpetrators, filmed in prison, that provides crucial insight into the mindset of the men who committed the rape, and explores the wider dynamics of a patriarchal society and culture which seeds violence against women. “A girl is far more responsible for a rape than a boy,” said the rapist/murderer without remorse as he describes the role of women.
The film has become very controversial with some praising it and others criticizing it for giving a megaphone to the rapists’ point of view, for bringing shame upon India, ignoring the Indian women’s movement, and violating the rights of both the victim and the accused. Regardless of the point of view, The New York Times thought the filmmaker was worthy enough to honor her with a 2015 Woman of Impact award. She also won the prestigious Anna Lindh Human Rights Award for advancing the rights of women. The film’s co-producer is Dibang and associate producers are Riddhi Jha and Pinto with Nick Fraser is the executive producer.