Why “India’s Daughter” is an important documentary

Rape. 16 December. The bus. Iron rods. Broken. Beaten. Nirbhaya.

I don’t read such news articles. I get upset and I can’t deal with it. It’s like seeing pictures of hungry children. I’m selfish that way, I look away.

And then I meet Leslee Udwin, the director, producer and the heart of the now controversial documentary “India’s Daughter.”

I eventually learn more about the rape and murder of Jyoti Singh than I can stomach. And I watch Leslee make this documentary for two years with no sleep, her eyes red-rimmed, her passion and heart on her sleeve. She talks to anyone relevant who will talk to her. She asks for help without any ego. She pleads, she cajoles and she begs to make this movie. People shun her. People try to cheat her. She perseveres. She invests in the film with more than finances, with everything she’s got. Her family stands behind her. They hold her when she’s too weak to stand and they support her.

I stand watching her and I keep thinking that I could have been on the bus. I have been on buses as a teenager in India, making out with a boyfriend. I have been this woman. I keep thinking that this could be me. Just as Leslee keeps saying that she has a daughter and this is why she needs to make this movie.

Leslee is not Indian but she has a love for India that will compare to any nation-loving patriotic Indian. This woman made “East it East” and “West is West.” This woman talks in Hindi – broken it might be but with love for my country. This woman made a film to help the women in my country and today my country is banning her film. There are people out there who are deflecting the issue by saying “How dare she interview a rapist?” “Why is she making this documentary?” “Go back to where you came from Leslee Udwin.” “She did it for fame.”

_81377601_81375433If Leslee could choose not to make this documentary she would have because it has been a tough climb to make it. A really, really tough climb. The hardest project of her life. Gut wrenching. She has cried watching the videos as she edited. She has broken her heart again and again and again as she made this film. But she had no choice. This is her integrity. This is her clean heart. This is her need to do the right thing.

And she has made it for us – all us Indian women. All the women in the world.

I know India has banned this film but watch it anyway and flood social media with your comments. You disagree or you agree with why she interviewed the rapist – but you can’t disagree that this is an important film made to start a discussion.

If this film could stop one rape with this – if she could bring gender equality and respect of women to even one man out there who is thinking that women are second class citizens, her film will be worth it.

You can watch it at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05534p0 after it has premiered this Sunday, 8 March.