India’s Daughter (2015) Movie Review: Women Shall Overcome

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Movie Review

By: The Cinephiliac (A Toast) –

Watching India’s Daughter is a gut-wrenching experience. It will suck the life out of you completely, draining you with its brutal retelling of the 2012 gang rape and subsequent murder of Joyti Singh in New Delhi, India. Joyti was a 23-year-old medical student who decided to see Life of Pi with a good friend as a celebration of having one last night of freedom before an internship set to begin the next day. While on their way home, Joyti and her friend Awindra Pratap Pandey, who is interviewed throughout the film, were lured onto a bus they thought was heading their way. On that bus Awindra was beaten while Joyti was savagely gangraped and assaulted by five or six men. These men soon after left the two on the side of road, resulting in Joyti’s death brought on by the brutal complications and abuse her body underwent. India’s Daughter is a horrifying film to sit through, but is a much-needed, important ripple in the sea of change that needs to happen in conversations all over the world about the dangerously conservative thought that dominates how females are treated.

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Shout it from the rooftops!

A Toast

Leslee Udwin possesses an intrinsic courage seen heavily throughout India’s Daughter. This courage is the reason the film feels so exhaustive in its coverage of Joyti’s case and the aftermath of rage that spread across the globe. Udwin takes on a somber, complicated topic with ease and delicate care while making sure to provide us with the grim details. She interviews Joyti’s parents and the friend involved, allowing us insight into Joyti’s incredible spirit and the kind heart she possessed that was nurtured by two parents who gave their all for her goals. Interestingly enough Udwin makes humans of the monsters who committed the crime by revealing the underlying reasons that tragedies like this persist.

Udwin’s investigative style of narrative throughout India’s Daughter is the film’s most arresting aspect. Six men were convicted of the crime including one 17-year-old known as “The Juvenile”. Udwin covers the aftermath of the rape, revealing how one of the six committed suicide in his cell and how the other four were convicted and later hung to death. But more importantly she delves into the background of the men themselves. We learn who these men were, where they came from, and how their families have reacted to the tragedy. Udwin interviews “The Driver”, a member of the four men later hung to death. She visits with one of the accused’s parents, wife, and toddler son. We learn about the troubled home life of “The Juvenile”, whose own mother reveals she thought her son had died years before only to find out he was alive and charged with rape and murder. These emotionally charged, in-depth interviews aren’t meant to take away from Joyti or her tragedy, but instead they make up a larger and more important centerpiece of the film.

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And this is why rapes continue to happen at alarming rates.

Udwin lays out all the tiny, singular parts that make up the whole of the issue of rape within society. Audiences are henceforth confronted with the truth of the unbalanced power dynamic between men and women put in place by patriarchal societies where men are praised and respected above women. Through expert talking heads throughout the film we are reminded how the harsh reality of cultural infanticide contributes to the issue of gender inequality and injustice for women as the value of males trumps that of females. This further allows dangerous acts of chauvinism like rape to continue at astoundingly high rates in countries all over the world.

Verdict

India’s Daughter isn’t the type of film to sit around with friends on a Friday night to watch, unless your friend’s are prepared to have an ongoing debate about the topic at hand. It’s brutal to watch and a hard pill to swallow, especially when you hear the defensive arguments made by the rapists and their team of supporters. At times the film feels a bit exploitative of the topic and tries too hard to emote reactions from audiences by lingering on the emotionally wrecked faces of those getting interviewed, though I understand editor Anuradha Singh’s decision to do so. Nevertheless, India’s Daughter is a must-see film.

Currently, there is a major rift between conservative thought and new-age liberal thought in almost every country. India’s Daughter is proof of how deadly and tragic conservative thought can be. In order to move forward and advance as a society we must first address the flaws of humanity and the systems we have in place. India’s Daughter is a brave, outspoken reminder of that. The truth isn’t always pretty, but we must swallow it so we can learn and evolve.

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About The Cinephiliac

Twenty-something film reviewer, social critic, and cultural analyst searching for a place in the sun. Movieboozer is a humor website and drinking games are intended for entertainment purposes only, please drink responsibly.

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