Sunday, April 08, 2007

Provoked: Truly applause worthy

-By Swetha Amit
In prison she found freedom. An ironical statement which is bound to make several faces portray mystified expressions along with a lingering question in their minds-Freedom from what?

‘Circle of light’ is one such autobiography by Rahila Gupta and Kiranjit Ahluwalia, bringing to light the dark side of a marriage. Adapted from the book about an ugly issue of domestic abuse depicts the true story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia that inspires the making of this film.

Provoked that takes you through the unbelievable events which provides an explanation to the rather queer statement.

The film starts with a strange figure holding a candle and setting fire to a man who goes up in flames. The identity is then revealed to be that of a quivering Kiranjit (Aishwarya Rai) trying to kill her husband Deepak (Naveen Andrews).An allegation by Deepak and further investigation by the law discloses the attempted murder by Kiranjit.

A flashback traces back to her life 10 years ago. Kiranjit a simple Punjabi girl was married off to Deepak-a guy based in London whom she barely knew. To her horror, her husband turned out to be alcoholic, abusive and irresponsible. Not only did he indulge in shameless acts of infidelity but also resorted to violence as he mercilessly raped her for several nights.

Terror struck the docile Kiranjit who was unable to bear the brutality of Deepak. Things reached a saturation point after one such incident when she decided to ignite her angered and fearful mind into literal burning flames that would destroy her husband.

She is put under prolonged trial. Odds go against her as the witness to her case turn hostile, including her mother in law.

Kiranjit is sentenced to life imprisonment. Her days in jail help her find solace in her room mate Veronica Scott (Miranda Richardson) who befriends her and stands up for her against the bullies. She provides immense support for Kiranjit going as far as helping her brush up her English skills. Kiranjit almost finds the meaning of freedom and enjoys the company of her new found friends. But she suffers from dozes of her traumatic past which continues to haunt her in the cold cells of prison.

Meanwhile Kiranjit also sees a ray of hope in Radha (Nandita Das) who heads an NGO dealing with women related issues. With grit and determination Radha fights her way to bring justice to Kiranjit. She wins the latter’s confidence and even manages a meeting between Kiranjit and her children. With flyer campaigns and support from Veronica’s contacts, Kiranjit manages to surpass her appeal and she begins a new life altogether with her children.

Life is a roller coaster ride, consisting of ups and downs. However there are a few provoking lows which leaves one shocked beyond words of description, but comes a full circle.

It’s a brilliantly portrayed film in English by Jag Mundhra which belongs to Aishwarya Rai. Applause worthy performance indeed. Sans makeup, her eyes convey the multiple emotions of fear, distress and peace to perfection. Nandita Das does her part well as the energetic social worker. Others contribute in their own special way. Dialogues are excellent. The soulful background score by A.R.Rahman manages to find its way into this serious film and is quite commendable.

Kiranjit Ahluwalia’s tale is one of the domestic issues amongst the million cases prevailing in India and other parts of the world. This emphasizes the horrendous plight of such victims who maintain stoic silence over such humiliating treatment meted out to them. The concluding speech of Aishwarya Rai in the film sends a message to mothers to bring up their sons; to respect and regard women and their wives in the future.

This film is certainly bound to provoke and stir the minds of many by its hard hitting story. Hopefully it should bring about a drastic reduction of spouse- abuse cases to being remote.
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