Gulabi Gang Documentary Maker Reviews India’s Daughter

Nick Fraser and Leslie Udwin have chosen to ignore valid objections raised by women’s right activists says Gulabi Gang director Nishtha Jain

3 min read
Gulabi Gang Documentary Maker Reviews India’s Daughter
Hindi Female

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Nishtha Jain, director of Gulabi Gang, a documentary film which not only received critical acclaim for its balanced portrayal of the women’s empowered movement started by a rural activist Sampat Pal but also won two National Awards has been vocal about her views on why the film should have been stopped but not ‘banned’. She says, “The women lawyers and activists have asked set of valid questions which should be answered by the filmmakers.”


BBC Storyville decided to ignore the Indian government’s advisory against the broadcast of the TV reportage titled India’s Daughter and instead released it on YouTube.

In doing so BBC, Nick Fraser and Leslie Udwin have also chosen to ignore valid objections raised by some of the leading women’s right activists and advocates involved in the struggle against gender violence and discrimination (in India).

Here’s a link to what the latter had to say. Read here the hysteria around the ban and the objections raised make for a compelling read.

Nick Fraser of BBC Storyville was crying hoarse against the much celebrated The Act of Killing accusing it of celebrating violence. I, for one, don’t think that TAOK does that but I definitely think the artless interview of the unrepentant rapist Mukesh Singh on death row will definitely encourage potential rapists to kill their victims. Does it not matter to Mr. Fraser that the inclusion of this interview violates the Indian Penal Code?

Photo: Reuters

I watched the reportage too. I don’t think it deserves to be called a documentary. It’s replete with simulated scenes, carpeted with cheesy music, parallel cutting to intensify the contrast between the rapist/ defence lawyers and sentiments of the parents. For the first 30 minutes the report only reconstructs that ghastly night of Dec 16 about which we have read and heard enough for the last two years. The report makes its primary business to go through every step of the incident, juicing the titillating material all the way through. There’s a British scholar who appears again and again commenting about India from the pedestal of Oxford. At one point she says she’s never seen protests of this scale in India. Yes, that’s true. No protests in India have been televised or reported at such a scale because they are not happening in Delhi and they do not concern middle class Indians, the media or their counterparts abroad.

My biggest critique of the reportage is the disproportionate amount of time given to the rapists and the defence lawyers. We get the gist of what they think already in the beginning – they are unrepentant and don’t feel the pressure to mouth platitudes in front of a TV crew.

Director of BBC documentary India’s Daughter Leslie Udwin. Photo: PTI

But Leslie Udwin can’t seem to have enough of them. She does that at the cost of slicing down what could have made the report stronger, for example Kavita Krishnan’s interview. The latter’s contribution to the movement is widely known and her perspective would have made the film richer but unfortunately as we all know layered thoughts don’t make for sensational television.

I can’t foresee how the broadcast of such a report can have positive outcome. I can only see some outrage and tears amongst people who are already against gender violence. For those who are not and there’s a lot of them out there, they’ll definitely find themselves agreeing with Mukesh. Mukesh in effect becomes their hero, achieving his 30 minutes of fame. The film fails to offer any new perspective on gender violence or how to combat it. And worse still, it creates the impression that it’s the poor men who rape.

Last but not least, the Indian co-director and co-producer’s name is still missing from this report.

(Read The Quint’s report on the missing credit controversy here)

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