This article is a movie review of the film “PROVOKED” a Jagmohan Mundhra film. The film was released in the year 2006 across all theatres in India. The film starring Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai was made by Motion Pictures Partners in collaboration with British Media Fund International.
The movie is a real life story. It is based on the book “CIRCLE OF LIGHT”, the autobiography of Kiranjit Ahluwalia. It revolves around the immeasurable pain and sufferings that were inflicted on Mrs.Ahluwalia and how she was a brutal victim of domestic violence. Breaking all binds after withstanding a lot, she sets her husband on fire one fine day and it was in the prison that she felt free and happy for the first time after marriage. She found her freedom in prison- freedom from the darkness, brutality, and abuse and above all freedom from the fear with which she had lived since the night she got married. Mrs.Ahluwalia’s story touched all hearts in the prison and she was put through a special trial. The case was dismissed and her story gave a new meaning to the word “Provocation”.
The movie starts with the scene when Kiranjit Ahluwalia (Aishwarya Rai) sets her husband Deepak Ahluwalia (Naveen Andrews) on fire while he was asleep on the night of May 9, 1989. He is immediately rushed to a nearby hospital by the neighbor and the case reported to the police. Ahluwalia is speechless when being interrogated by a detective sergeant and Constable James who are in charge of this case. Her husband has made a very serious allegation against her. The allegation of attempt of his murder.
Kiranjit is taken to Mullwood High prison. It is here where she starts remembering her past experiences she has had with her husband. The movie now juggles between the present and the past scenes. There are quick and sharp contrasts between her life at the prison and her life back home with Deepak. She remembers the day when Deepak got her to their new home in London. She was pregnant then and her happiness knew no bounds. Little did she know that she was stepping into a very dark, gloomy world? In the current scene, she meets her cellmate, Ronnie who seems to be a happy woman. Ms.Mariam Taylor, the barrister for her case sympathizes with her when Kiran shows her the marks on her back. The marks of her husband’s so called “love” for her. It is for the first time in the film that she is able to speak up and the marks of his brutal beatings justify her act of attempting to kill her husband, to a certain extent. Time and again she is reminded of various instances and events of her husband’s cruelty as to how she was threatened by him for small things , how he came home drunk and beat up her , raped her at times , pushed her down the stairs when she was carrying his baby in her stomach or she was slapped mercilessly. And how she had taken all the sufferings silently for 10 long years. As a result of this, she is always silent and lost in her thoughts. And this is not appreciated by the other bold outgoing lady prisoners and they chide and mock at her.
As time passes, Kiran feels a sense of freedom in the prison. She starts conversing with the others and makes friends with Ronnie or Veronica Scott as she was known to the world. She learns English from her and tells her story to Ronnie. Radha (Nandita Das) desperately wants to help Kiran and leaves no stone unturned in her quest to get Kiran the justice and freedom she deserves.
The second half of the film has fast moving yet significant scenes. Radha and Anil, another member working for the Black Sisters association, with the help of Ronnie’s brother is able to submit an appeal for conviction in Kiran’s case. Ronnie’s brother is a lawyer and willingly takes up the case as per his sister’s request. Radha and her team are busy collecting evidences and arouse public attention for the case. She meets as many people as possible to find even the slightest information that could be of crucial help. Radha also arranges one or two meetings of Kiran’s children with her in the prison. Ronnie’s encouragement, Radha’s inspiring words are finally able to convince Kiran to let her story out to the world in her own words. Her words are read by Radha in a public rally and great support is gained.
On July 30,1992 , after making the appeal on three grounds , two of them regarding provocation in literal sense and the third one , a restatement by James O’Connell , the constable who lied during the initial trial of Kiran. The court is convinced and settles for a retrial. This is the last chance they have to get Kiran her share of justice. With high hopes and trust in the law, everybody in favor of Kiran is anxiously waiting for the verdict. Much surprisingly, on September 25, 1992, the court reduces her life term imprisonment to a punishment of about 3 years and 4 months only.
Addressing the media, Kiran has a very important message for all. She dedicates this victory to all those women who are victims of domestic violence. She requests the world to raise their sons in such a manner that they treat women with love and respect, not with violence and anger. She thinks the essence of marriage is lost if the wife is mentally and physically tortured and there can be no love when there is no trust and mutual understanding.
The movie ends on a happy note with Kiran released from jail and happy with her children.
This film centers on the sensitive issue of domestic violence and its ruthless impacts, both mentally and physically on all those women who are made to suffer this kind of barbarous treatment. The character of Mrs.Ahluwalia is just an example forcing the viewers or the readers to imagine to what extent men can go to prove their superiority and physical might over women. The movie is set in the streets of London which makes it even harder to believe the fact that educated people residing in such big cities can be little women to such an extent that she looses her sense of mind and attempts to murder her husband. The politics involved in her case and the constable forced to lie is another big culprit which complicates things further and makes the person at the receiving end even more helpless. This film is an alarming plea to the audience to help them change their mental outlook towards women and an attempt to reduce domestic violence if not eradicate it. The message here lies in the fact that sons must be brought up in such a manner that they respect every single lady, known or unknown to them. It is a message for all the women who have and are being victimized, not to keep mum and fight for themselves. Domestic violence is a shameful sin. And being silent is not an option anymore.
“BREAK the SILENCE to STOP this VIOLENCE.”