India’s Daughter (2015)

I have seen a lot of documentaries of such kind; pertaining to crime. From beheadings to documentation of whistleblowing, but I have never come across such a documentary. Unlike popular belief, I found this documentary extremely banal and it lacked a message. Yes, it shed light upon the oppression of women in our country of India through the story of Nirbhaya, whose real name was revealed to be Jyoti Singh. But we must understand that, the purpose of such documentaries is far greater than what this documentary served.

As an Indian, as a law-abiding citizen, as a humanitarian I was appalled by the crimes committed by the accused men on that unfortunate woman and I was outraged by the comments made by their solicitors. I was so enraged that I wanted to come out and protest against these men. But if I look at the documentary through a movie critic’s point of view, this documentary as I said earlier had no message. It focuses upon the rape case that took place in December, 2012, in New Delhi with a larger prospective of displaying the misogynistic nature of the men in the country. But wasn’t that something we already knew? I watched the documentary twice. When I watched it for the first time, I was angry and was injected with animosity, it opened up old wounds and I was inspired and was proud of the documentary but after going through my social media, I came across a friend’s update about how the story should have been told, I began introspection and realized how hypocritical I was being and how this documentary had done more harm than good.

The documentary keeps rehashing the events of that tragic night, keeps describing the events of the same which we already read in the newspaper 2 years ago, gives us the views of the accused which were previously tacit and the comments of the lawyers which acted as the salt on the wounds. The worse part is the video got a huge amount of hype due to the ban that was put on the video due to legal problems, but the media as well as the masses happily left out the legal aspect of it, and condemned the government for putting the ban. This documentary had nothing to tell us that we didn’t know, apart from the views of the accused about his crime, which will now act as a nail in his coffin and the outrageous comments of the lawyers which caused the Bar Council of India to report them. These two unknown aspects of the documentary has had 48 hours of uninterrupted television media time.

This documentary had consummate cinematography and adroit direction, but again I just couldn’t figure out the purpose of it. Was it to remind the masses about the crime and stir them up? Was it to highlight the misogyny that we already know about? Or was it record the thought process of the accused? The documentary also tampered with the legal proceedings of the accused because it revealed some sensitive information about the case and also made the solicitors public targets of animosity. The documentary records the parents saying that they believed their daughter’s name deserved to be known to the masses and I believe the same, but that was to be done after the legal proceedings were done with. Even though the parents gave the name with their own volition, we must understand this case is in the hands of the supreme court and as circumspection towards public disharmony the name was not revealed, but I guess it was of no use.

This documentary fails on so many levels. “Her story deserves to be told” There was no story that was told, just her parents describing her childhood, which is extremely touching, but sporadic and that tragic night that we all knew and read about in detail, which only brings back sad memories and injects animosity in our hearts, so much animosity that we are blinded to even see past the hollowness of this documentary. and all the misogynistic comments that we hate and condemn after watching it, even though we read about them first on the internet. I do not write this to disrespect Nirbhaya in any way, she deserves justice and in no way is this article to be directed towards her. I have written an article about another documentary which obviously had a different purpose, but the basic point was to show the people something they didn’t know or something they ignored. I believe in this documentary whatever was shown and conveyed was neither unknown nor ignored by the masses before it’s documentation, hence we end up just circling back to the original question, what was the purpose?

I will not be rating this documentary, no matter what my opinions are about its content, this documentary is sensitive to me.


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