06/03/2015 8:13 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

What We Should Learn From India's Daughter


I have seen India's Daughter. And so have many others till it was blocked on YouTube.

As India slept after triggering a controversy, Filmmaker Leslee Udwin's documentary India's Daughter was aired in UK and made available on Youtube. So much for the brouhaha created around its telecast - most of it by those who didn't bother to see the film.

"we don't know what parts we can stitch up"

Clutching onto some blood curdling quotes of one of the rapists, a case was made that airing it would be an insult to Nirbhaya.

The government has blindly taken sides. But the argument of the naysayers doesn't hold ground. In fact it reeks of a patriarchal mindset that won't allow debate or dissent.

I have seen India's Daughter. I admit, I choked. I was outraged. But I was also inspired.

Udwin's film is not just about Nirbhaya's rapist Mukesh Singh's interview. India's Daughter is a reminder of the outpouring of anger on the streets of Delhi and elsewhere in India, when women - young and old, mothers, daughters, students and homemakers marched ahead, impervious to the peak winter, to the lathi charge, the water canons and the tear gas shells. With a singular demand for justice and equality they protested, shouting till their voice penetrated the guarded walls of the powers that be.

Udwin has, in the most painstaking manner, brought out the anguish of Nirbhaya's brave parents and the trials women are subjected to daily.

But India's Daughter has also touched a raw nerve. It has dared to expose a regressive patriarchal system, making a point through interviewees. Defence lawyers are on record comparing women to a piece of meat. "She should not be put on the streets just like food", argues one. Another claims that when women face men, they "immediately put sex in his eyes."

So is this what has upset many - a majority of them being men? Has a largely patriarchal society been shown the mirror and they don't like that one bit?

Surely, this powerful documentary is not for casual watching. It is meant to shock you or make you squirm - and it does both in equal measure.

In the documentary Mukesh, the interviewed rapist, is nonchalant and unremorseful. He talks about the monstrosity the six of them subjected Nirbhaya to, as though he's narrating a scene out of a movie. The matter-of-fact manner in which he mentions the most gruesome acts will make your blood turn cold. But juxtapose this with the grief of a mother when she is told by horrified doctors, "we don't know what parts we can stitch up". Now decide for yourself, who's case is stronger.

"Udwin has, in the most painstaking manner, brought out the anguish of Nirbhaya's brave parents and the trials women are subjected to daily. "

If at all - India's Daughter will strengthen the case against the rapists, not weaken it as some have argued. It will also inspire more women to speak up against discrimination and abuse.

Instead of keelhauling her, Udwin should be thanked for her work. It is not a "skewed western view" of the incident, but a narrative held by those affected by the case.

Nirbhaya's parents are undoubtedly the bravest. They are not shy of revealing their daughter's name. Says her father, "Her name stands for light. She lit a torch not just in our country but for the world".

Don't let this effort go in vain. I urge all parents to watch India's Daughter if you manage to get a copy, not alone but with your children. Discuss and debate it. Because it is a step forward in ensuring the coming generation -- our sons -- don't turn out this way.