India’s ban on the BBC gangrape documentary will “not last very long” as the country’s courts “are not puppets” of the government and civilised values will return, the British filmmaker behind the controversial film has said.
“My prediction is that the ban will not last very long at all because the courts of India are not puppets of the government,” Leslee Udwin, director of ‘Storyville: India’s daughter’ told PTI in an interview here.
“India is a democracy, it is actually a civilised nation even though the current ban would suggest otherwise — that the most important pillar of democracy, which is free speech, has been stamped upon in this ban. It (the ban) is temporary. It’s not going to last. Civilised values will return, the ban will be lifted and then I hope when all of this hysteria dies down, they will focus on saving the women of the world rather than hiding their particular shame,” she said.
The US premier of the documentary on the brutal gang rape of the 23-year old paramedical student was attended by Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, actress Frieda Pinto and Indian actor-producer Farhan Akhtar, who came with his wife Adhuna at the Baruch College here yesterday.
Udwin faced backlash over her documentary, banned in India, with people saying the film gave a platform to the rape accused Mukesh Singh to air his views. Singh appears unrepentant in the documentary.
Udwin alleged that the comments made by Singh are not very different from what some Indian political leaders say about rape and its victim.
“What hypocrisy to scream in hysteria about the platform given to Mukesh who says exactly the same things as Indian politicians say day after day. It’s a reflection of the mindset of the society. And that’s what I learnt doing these interviews,” she alleged.
Udwin reiterated that the documentary was “never meant to single India out “for its record of offenses against women.”
“The film was meant to single India out in a particular way and that was in a very positive way as the only country in my lifetime that has stood up for over a month, day after day with unprecedented numbers of ordinary men and women out on the streets fighting for my rights.
“And that is why I came to India to make this film. If the protests had taken place as a response to any other case in any other part of the world, I would have gone there,” Udwin said.
She said she came to India “out of respect, admiration and gratitude” to those protestors who were “fighting for me on the other side of the globe.”Udwin said that even though her documentary has been banned in India, she wants to convey to the Indians that “they lead the world by example in these protests (against rape), in terms of standing up and being counted and saying enough is enough.”
She said that through the protests that followed the gangrape, Indians sent out a message that they will no longer tolerate inequality against women, lack of respect and safety for women.
Udwin said amid the backlash against the documentary, the core message of the brutal crime has been temporarily “sublimated to the attempts to bury the issue.”
While the problem of gender inequality is not restricted to India but is global, there is an in-built cultural resistance in India that tends to hide what is considered to be shameful, she said.
Udwin also categorically denied that she had paid Singh or any other interviewee money for the documentary.
“Not one rupee, I did not pay one interviewee any money whatsoever. I’m a person of integrity. The people who are coming up with these lies, smear campaigns in an attempt to discredit me would get no where. They are people without integrity. The truth always surfaces and shines above lies, darkness and ignorance,” Udwin said.
She said if the people had bothered to see the documentary before they started making their “hysterical self-defensive statements that come from a vacuum”, they would understand that at the end of this film there are statistics of offenses against the women the world over.
Giving the reasons for her decision to make the documentary, she said she has been very passionate about the subject and wanted to understand the psychology of the men who turn rapists.