Just happened to watch the Aishwarya Rai-starrer ‘Provoked’. I said ‘just happened to’ because I didn’t intend to in the first place, but when I did, I was glad I did! Seriously… Here’s one Indian movie that has handled a sensitive subject so well, that they didn’t need to show excessive violence or gregarious acts of abuse to make the audience realise the trauma of the victim; they didn’t need to show excessive melodrama, K-style rona-dhona , etc to depict the pains and sorrows that the victim had to endure; they didn’t have to glorify the protagonist to crucify the villain, and yet the movie succeeded absolutely in conveying the correct message!!! Just like Kiranjeet Ahluwalia, the protagonist states at the end of the movie, “I may not be important, but the issue is!!”
You all must have heard the story of Kiranjeet Ahluwalia, the simple and sober Punjabi girl, married to a sophisticated guy residing in England and having a split- personality. After 10 whole years of enduring continual abuse, she finally fired up one day, literally. She set fire to her sleeping husband in the middle of the night, not really intending to kill him. When he died of his burns, she was convicted for murder, her pleas of abuse and provokation as the causes of murder not withstanding….
She was put behind bars, but after 10 years of hell, this is where she found freedom. She experienced and enjoyed all that she had never done in her married years, she learnt to speak english, to play, to do things she wants and chooses to do. There in the prison, she found friendship, warmth, and support. Later with the help of South Hall Black sisters(An NGO that works for the support of abused women), and her inmates at jail, she was paroled, and went on to lead her life with her sons, and on her own terms.
A different story rite! A very good subject to make a movie on; cause this story needs to be told.. Whether we want to believe it or not, there are thousands of women even in today’s world, who face physical, mental and sexual domestic abuse; and yet pray around the Banyan tree, that they get the same husband for the next 7 lives. (Tangentially thinking, this thing sounds like an infinite recursive loop 🙂 , but lets not deviate from the topic now, we’ll take it up later!! hehe). In a land where a woman symbolises Shakti, it rarely makes sense that she has to foresake all her Shaktis and be a servant to her husband.
This movie in no way preaches murder..Aishwarya Rai even admits in one scene when her plea is being turned down, that she had sinned and would have to pay for it. In fact in her book ‘Circle Of Light’ (the movie is based on this book), Kiranjeet Ahluwalia has clearly stated, that she doesnt say go kill ur husbands if they abuse you, but if your marriage is a bad marriage, just get out of it as soon as possible!
I think the movie surely takes this message across, and that is the success of the movie!
On the performance front, Aishwarya Rai is brilliant as the naive, inconfident and grief-striken wife and later as the transformed-yet-aware-of-her-past woman. Other cast too is well-chosen, and chip in perfectly.
The dialogues, set design and direction is brilliant…esp. Note the mirror in the prison, and the dialogue that Veronica Scott(very well played by Miranda Richardson) says while chatting with Aishwarya Rai, and playing scrabble. She announces a triple score on board, just as Aishwarya is telling her what an Indian girl is supposed to do: Get married, Have Children, and be a proper Indian woman! Brilliant! In fact there are many such good, crisp and thought- provoking dialogues in the movie.
Yeah, I agree that there are chances that I grade the movie a little higher than what it should be, because I am a feminist.. but even then, this is definitely a must-watch movie for everyone seeking art and heart from a movie. And the cause is well-meant, too! Go for it!
Rating: Green, most definitely!