Two years after a horrific crime, a documentary was made. The following dialogues are fictitious in nature and is written in response to Daily Post's prompt - A House Divided
The Daughter: I never criticise a film or novel, or any work of fiction, you know. Because, I feel a lot of hard work goes into producing a work of fiction, and one who is not qualified enough should never attempt a criticism. But, these days I see, everybody has turned into a critic!
And you are on a banning spree of late. How many voices do you want to curb?
The Daughter: What else do you think is the latest controversy surrounding you!
The Father: By the way, I’m absolutely cherishing how you have referred ‘India’s Daughter’ in context of fiction. I’m glad you realised.
The Daughter: Oh err, well of course. It’s a documentary indeed, and everything shown in the film is supposedly true. Hard to believe though.
The Father: Exactly my point. Seemed to be an exaggeration, in order to make things sensational! Distortion of truth. That’s why I banned it, you see.
The Daughter: That’s why you shouldn’t have, you see!
The funny thing about ban is, it makes any trifle attractive like the forbidden fruit. Had you not made so much noise in banning the damn film, I hardly think it would have drawn so much attention. The film’s going all viral and everything, all that’s your fault. You should have held your dignity, and just let the film wash off.
The Father: Have you ever stopped to think why I banned the documentary, before criticising me? As it is, the rate of rape is on an all-time high in the country right now. The rapist’s justification on raping women, as has been portrayed in the film would have encouraged some more criminals.
The Daughter: Really, you think so? A criminal’s pathetic attempt to justify his cause will encourage more crime, above everything else on earth. You sound so lame!
The Father: No, I don’t. Think carefully. How many people in India are like you and me who are well-educated to think analytically and apply their intellect to decipher right from wrong? In a country where people keep electing a corrupt government year after year in spite of their utmost suffering in his hands; in a country where many people are unable to think how to exercise their voting rights for their own benefit; in a country where opinion makers like village panchayats, school teachers (and lawyers) are needed to make the mass think differently and bring about a change, how many people do you think would have understood the underlying message (if at all any) of the documentary? People will listen what the criminal is saying, will see how the film is made on him adding glamour to his glory and might start idolising him, following his footsteps. Look in the past and you won’t have to search for long, I’m sure you’ll find instances where media has made a hero out of a criminal.
Besides, the lawyers’ body language was obscene, slang hand gestures they were making while using ‘flower’ metaphor for women! What they said was outrageous. Who thinks that way! Good God! How can you show such nuisance in prime time TV in India?
You are not getting me. I had to stop them from showing the film in India. It is against our culture…
The Daughter: I get you very much father. You remember when uncle tried to molest me when I was just a kid? You had felt my pain, yet you kept quiet in fear of ruining my image. And do you remember, what you had said? “He has nothing to lose. But who will marry you, if these things become public!” You had said getting molested is my shame. I should not make noise about such nuisance, but tolerate and preserve my reputation in society. Now, please tell me, was it my image my reputation, or your own inflated ego that you keep guarding?
Now, once again you did the same. Tell me, how is it my shame, if the wrongdoer is them? Tell me, how shall we find the solution, if all we do is hush the problem? Tell me, whether owning up your inability to protect me and a promise to try harder makes you a loser, or trying to hide the fact that I have been abused does?
The Father: Oh you don’t understand…I had to try to stop them from releasing the film, or the whole world would have known…and now they know…
The Daughter: Let them know! Then you can always show them what steps you are taking to make things better for me. Besides, no man is perfect, so are no father, and no nation. Accepting the flaw and striving to eliminate it, is what makes a man, a man.
The Father: But those were a misrepresentation of fact, exaggeration of reality. The film is not true, you know that! You know what happens with an irresponsible documentary like this? Now the whole world will forget women, and the patriarchs will start fighting over who has more rape cases. Read this, and you will know.
Am I that worthless a father, tell me??
The Daughter: Look, you are getting emotional again. You shouldn’t have allowed shooting the film in first place, Dad. Amazing how a filmmaker entered Tihar jail! Tihar Jail, of all others, my God! Isn’t Tihar the infamous jail, for housing the most notorious of criminals? How could she get in and shoot a criminal, as if Shahrukh Khan in ‘Randevouz with Simi Garewal’, or Rushdie with Oprah. Hah!
The Father: Not my doing, you know that. I did allow nobody to film that bloody rapist. I have no idea how and when it all happened. Ask your mom…
The Daughter: You can’t get away with that. Anyway, your attempt to stop the film’s release only jeopardized our global image further. The film is absurd, and everybody would have seen through the fake dialogues and gimmick, had your ban not made it so popular a ‘democracy issue’.
And no, you are not that bad a father, after all. I like it when you throw slogans supporting girl child and women’s right to education. I like it when ‘Pink Auto’ is launched in Bihar, exclusively for women, with women drivers all dressed in pink. Awesome, I say! I feel proud when I read in newspaper that common men in India are marrying the acid attack victims.
The Father: But, tell me honestly, did you really think the film is ‘absurd’? Everybody is all gaga over it. What makes you think it’s absurd?
The Daughter: Why of course Dad. A documentary is supposed to be well-balanced. Where is the balance in this film?
Firstly, the film opens showing a furious mob and how authority is using force to keep the mob in control. Whereas, the peaceful candle light vigils that had followed the Delhi gang rape incident in all parts of India is not shown. The candle march where all the political parties had taken part, along with celebrities and common men alike is not shown for even a second. But in reality, that’s what had taken place majorly, and for days and months after the incident. Lot of Indian men, who thinks differently than the rapist were protesting the crime, and demanding a safer country for their sisters and daughters. But no. India’s Daughter doesn’t portray any of these.
Secondly, the criminal gets to tell his story, but the surviving victim, the ‘male friend’ with whom Jyoti Singh was out on that fateful night was not involved in the project? A silly attempt has gone into covering this gap by bringing in some ‘tutor’ who clearly was stating rotted dialogues. If you watch closely, that boy was stammering while remembering his memorised dialogues. Funny!
Thirdly, the defence lawyers blabbered away their Taliban take on women, but the prosecution council’s version is nowhere to be found. How melodramatic! India is not a Taliban nation, not even close. Yes, vice is there. I do feel insecure alone in road after dark, and carry pepper spray in my purse. I am not defending your position here, mind it. But the lawyers’ version is not a common notion of the fathers of India.
The Father: I heard the accused Mukesh Singh’s family has been given money by the filmmaker! Some forty or eighty thousand rupees…I need to look into the matter…
What was the film maker’s purpose to show a criminal’s defective arguments in support of his crime? Weird.
The Daughter: Weird is your legal system, and nothing is more weird than that. I will elucidate. But before that I need to contemplate director Leslee Udwin’s need for giving voice to the rapist Mukesh Singh.
In a country of thousand crores, why are we highlighting the pervert mind-set of the minority as India’s voice?
You know what majority Indians are like?
The Indian researchers who are getting declined by foreign universities following ‘India’s Daughter’ controversy are not the majority.
The first generation NRIs in awkward silence, not being able anymore to idolize their perfect motherland in front of their European peers are not the majority either.
Majority Indian is the farmer and his son suffering from malnutrition. They look seventy in their thirties. No, they can’t be rapists. They get to eat four days a month or even less. They sell their daughters to feed the rest of the children. You think they can rape, or form any opinion in support of raping women for that matter? Can they?
Tell me who are these Mukesh Singhs? Why the Mukesh Singhs are growing rampant in our country? Who is paying for their legal fights, moving one court after another for two long years? No. They can’t be the common poor Indians.
The Father: The court proceedings should be made faster, I agree. Corruption enters through our awfully slow legal proceedings.
The Daughter: Not only that, the several loopholes in our legal system should be mended fast.
However, coming back to what I was saying, I still don’t understand what purpose it served in exploring a rapist’s psyche. I hear all the arguments in favour of that. To eliminate criminals from society, the root cause of crime needs to be explored. Yes, agreed. So, the view-point of a criminal need to be studied. Yes, indeed.
But that’s applicable to crimes that are born of social injustice and deprivation. When a kind-hearted student Raskolnikov is turned into a murderer in Dostoveyski’s Crime and Punishment, because of extreme economic inequality in society and deprivation of basic human rights, we learn the criminals’ point of view in order to reform our society.
But Hitler’s use of power in trying to eliminate the powerless Jews was not stopped by listening patiently to what Hitler had to say in support of his misdeeds. No amount of reading Hitler’s autobiography would have saved the Jews that day.
If a certain group of human is trying to curb another group’s freedom to move freely on the face of earth by exerting power over the week, listening to the justifications is never going to stop the problem. We need strong legal actions to make social beings out of those animalistic humans. That’s it.
Lastly, the criminal psychologist in the film explains the rapists’ psychology (As if Mukesh Singh was not audible enough) – “They don’t have money, they have courage. What the rich are paying to get, they are snatching with their courage”. What a psychology, wow! Okay, what the rich are paying to the professional sex workers is to satisfy their sexual needs. What pleasure did it give to those rapists in inserting an iron rod inside the victim and rupturing her internal organ! Which part of brain does it satiate?
And why are we including such baseless comments in making a documentary on a sensitive topic such as crime against women?
Besides, I never quite understood the need of a woman to celebrate Women’s Day by remembering another woman’s death out of brutal gang rape. Sadly, the film somewhere has ended up showing India’s daughter as a victim, instead of a fighter! Celebration of anything should be on a positive light, that’s what I think. But Women’s mind! Well what do I know!