Gagngrape in Delhi: ‘India’s daughter’ real reflection of what society thinks, says Leslee Udwin

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Washington | Updated: March 12, 2015 7:10:08 PM

Refuting charges that 'India's Daughter' film on Delhi gangrape case was made for commercial gain...

Refuting charges that ‘India’s Daughter’ film on Delhi gangrape case was made for commercial gain, its producer Leslee Udwin has said the banned documentary is “a real reflection” of what society thinks.

“It’s a real reflection of what society thinks. And, you know, in a sense, there’s nothing surprising about those comments. This is a society that treats girls as unequal from the day they are born. It treats them as unwelcome when they are born,” Udwin said in an interview to the PBS news channel.

“Sweets are distributed in celebration at the birth of a boy only, and a girl is a disappointment. And from that moment in her life onward, she continues to be discriminated against. Her value is far, far less than that of a boy. Of course, you will end up with a society in which men think they can do what they like with women because they have no worth,” she said.

The film, banned in India, was premiered in New York this week, and Udwin, who has been accused of violating law and not abiding by the agreement with the Indian agencies which gave her necessary permission for the interview, has been appearing on mainstream Indian media for the past several days.

Prominent among these allegations include that she signed that she would not use the movie for commercial purposes.

“As far as commercial use, this is an absolute nonsense. I made this film as a work of passion, a labor of love, because I care greatly about this issue and I want to move the debate and the conversation forward,” she said.

“I want to help civil society demand, at long last, that we deal with this, I believe the greatest unfinished business of our time, the inequality of women. So this is not a commercial enterprise. I am still today carrying a massive personal debt in making this film,” Udwin said.

“The other thing you asked was why women’s groups seem to be coming out and saying that a foreigner shouldn’t be making this film. I would say it’s very, very hard, the frustration that women’s groups feel, when they have been working for generations, for decades trying to move this issue forward. It’s kind of tough to suddenly see a documentary come and be massively in the public eye, in the spotlight,” she said.

“It’s hard to embrace that and to say, you know, we may have wished it was an Indian filmmaker making this, but what she’s saying is exactly what we have been saying for decades, and we should nonetheless join hands, join forces,” she noted.

“That’s what I would have hoped to have seen. But I can understand that there will be factions, that there will be some people who think, that I ought to have featured them more in the documentary. I think that’s what’s at the base of this,” she said.

“But I have to say, as a filmmaker, I cannot be an ambassador for women’s rights groups. I’m not there to actually tell the history of the women’s struggle in India,” Udwin said, adding that she was not surprised at the Indian Government’s decision to ban the movie.

Asked why she thinks the rape incident brought people on the road, she said, “The frustration just boiled over. People came out on to the streets to start expressing their anger. And it built momentum and went on for over a month”.

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