- ▼ 2007 (20)
- Lotus Reads
- Book fiend,culture-vulture, world traveller, daughter of the tropics now living in the Great White North.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
3:43 AM | Posted by Lotus Reads | Edit Post
Cast: Aishwarya Rai,
Miranda Richardson, Naveen Andrews,
Nandita Das, Robbie
Release: April 2007
In 1989, Kiranjit Ahluwalia housewife of Indian(Punjabi) descent living in London, set fire to her husband, Deepak, as he lay in a drunken stupor in their bedroom. Kiran admitted to killing him in self-defence (she was afraid for her life after he came close to killing her several times in their abusive 10-year marriage) She was sentenced to a life in prison because the judge ruled that self-defence could not be used in her case as her last physical beating from her husband occured more than two hours before the killing signifying that the murder was premeditated and not in self-defence.
Kiran's cause was taken up by a women's group called "The Southall Black Sisters" . SBS is a non-profit group working against domestic violence and they brought her plight to the attention of the media by organising rallies and gathering public support. When her appeal was heard, in September 1992 at the Old Bailey, Ms Ahluwalia’s plea of manslaughter on the grounds of "diminished responsibility" was accepted. The judge sentenced her to three years and four months in prison — the exact time that she had already served.
By acknowledging the state of "diminished responsibility" and of "being provoked" the British court allowed, for the first time, "the battered woman syndrome" as a legal defence, acknowledging that a battered woman doesn't always strike out in self-defence immediately, many a time the hurt and the abuse will lie smouldering within her and she might strike out even at a time of low abuse, because she believes she will be abused again. Kiranjit’s case upturned the British judiciary and her appeal and retrial are now the stuff of every basic criminal law text in Britain.
So, while the story itself is compelling...I thought director Jag Mundhra could done a much better job with the movie. The movie "Provoked" was based on Kiranjit Ahluwalia's memoir "Circle of Light". Aiswarya Rai who plays Kiranjit, was inconsistent...she was good in some parts but failed miserably when trying to play the shy, battered, non-English speaking Kiranjit. She does get better as the movie progresses or so I thought. The character of Deepak Ahluwalia, the abusive husband, played by Naveen Andrews (of "Lost" fame) could have been fleshed out some more...the viewer doesn't get to know Deepak well and why he was so violent towards his wife. The movie seems to point to alcoholism, but the viewer realizes there has to be something more. The one actress who stole the show is Miranda Richardson (who is also in prison for killing her violent husband and who befriends Kiranjit in jail).
Having said that however, I think the movie should be seen because it speaks very strongly about domestic violence suffered by women. And in recent years, South-Asian women in Canada, especially from the immigrant Punjabi community, have witnessed a rise in the number of domestic violence victims. "...One in every four South Asian women is abused - physically,
emotionally, financially or psychologically," says Baldev Mutta, community development officer at the Peel Health Department, Toronto, a government agency.
This raises some troubling questions:
Why is this happening to this group of women? How do we empower them? Why are these men so violent? Do they need help too? What happens to the children when they witness such terrible abuse in their homes?
I guess there will always be more questions than answers.
Read more about Kiran Ahluwalia go HERE
Labels: Battered Women, Bollywood, Court Cases, Law Aiswarya Rai, Movie, Naveen Andrews, Women's Issues