The Mirror


As I write about an issue that I feel very strongly about, I feel a surging rush of hopelessness, disappointment and frustration with the current standing of ‘India’s Daughter’ in the mainstream Indian society. India is a land of immense intellect, age-old wisdom, talent, showmanship and Nari Shakti (Woman power). But unfortunately, these positive elements are controlled, banned and silenced by the dark elements of hypocrisy, prehistoric mindsets, chauvinism, violence and corruption.

Like any issue where one has to take a definitive stance, I choose to stand by ‘India’s Daughter’ documentary.  And here’s exactly why …

This is a documentary that is just like any other that there is in the cinema/arts category. It is as banal and common trite as that. And so, let’s treat it normally and review it objectively. Furthermore, the director is free to express or break all boundaries to make her point across. It’s her given perspective and right. You either like it or don’t. Ban is a bit extreme though.

My honest view is that when watched with an objective mind – the film is made beautifully, sensitively, realistically and fairly. But yes, if your sensibilities get offended too easily, then yes, the realities in the movie will mock you.

And then starts the critique finding – ‘BRITISHER (as if that’s an evil thing), MIND YOUR DAMN BUSINESS.’ Or ‘WHAT’S HER EVIL INTENT’?’ (Who is to judge her intent ..maybe it was noble and curious being a rape victim herself or materialistically/professionally motivated or a bit of both) Why does the intent really matter to you, me or anyone else? Pseudo patriots will get offended and cry that this shows India in poor light. Really? Why does our Patriotism suddenly wake up from nowhere at the these irrelevant moments? Why give this issue a patriotic angle at all? Is there an unwritten/unspoken rule that only documentaries that show the good side of India will be allowed to be screened here? Are we that insecure of our great nation? There is also bizarre angle linked to the ‘intent’ criticism – Global  conspiracy! This was categorically suggested by a member of the ruling party, Mr. Venkaiah Naidu who cited global conspiracy for the reason behind the ban. Really, Mr. Naidu? So, basically, you are saying the documentary is falsified, manipulated and is a part of a larger global conspiracy? Which conspiracy theory are you particularly talking about? The New World Order? The Rothschild/ Rockefellers instrumented ‘Feminist revolution’? The problem with these theories are just that – these are only theories with no valid proof. They may be true ..they may not be. Also, depending on which side of the boat you sit, you will accuse the one sitting on the other side to be a Zionist/Satanist/Luciferan/xyz with vested interests group etc. So, ultimately everyone/every group is accused of being a Zionist inculcated in the secret society by the opposite group. Yes, these theories make for an interesting read. But, to vaguely cite an insidious global conspiracy that will spark and ignite ‘out-of-control’ violent mob justice attacks as the reason behind the ban implies two things to the world.  One, that we are voluntarily turning a blind eye to the real-time injustice meted out to our women and two, that we are escaping our socio-moral responsibility to undertake the right judiciary action. A ban, then becomes  your quintessentially, atypical ‘road often travelled’ solution adopted to wriggle out of this embarrassing situation.  Definitely not the bravest attempt by the Indian Govt. We could do so much better especially when there are people from all walks of life in India speaking out loud against the ban. And the Govt. betrays and dashes all our collective hopes with this cowardly ban. 

Next critique ‘WHY PAY MONEY/GIVE A PODIUM TO THE RAPIST?’ – Well,this is a documentary and it has to show both sides of the story ..not just the victims side. If money is the only way to lure the rapist to talk (he initially demanded Rs.2 lakhs), then so be it. Let the truth be out from BOTH the victim and perpetrators’ side. The bottom line is no one was forced to be a part of this documentary. Some like the victim’s dignified parents obliged willingly, some had to be bribed like the perpetrator to open his damn gob and some others directly involved in the case just chose to opt out and stay out of further trouble and drama. 

Next hooker in line – ‘IT SHOWS ALL INDIAN MEN IN POOR LIGHT’. “Hello! Did you miss the victim’s father and friend’s views? If it were not for the progressive views of the victim’s father and the male likes in her circle of family and friends, she wouldn’t be studying medicine in the first place or roaming with a male friend before marriage at night. In India, the reverse is true -‘Behind every successful Indian woman, there is a supportive and progressive Indian man – be it father, brother or spouse.

Here goes another one – ‘WHAT ELSE DO YOU EXPECT FROM DEFENSE ATTORNEYS AND DON’T RIDICULE THEIR BROKEN ENGLISH?’ We perfectly understand how the legal system works, how a defense lawyer is obviously meant to defend the actions of his client while attacking the plaintiff. What we do not understand, comprehend and vehemently condemn is the absurdity and unculturedness arising from an educated mind. At least come up with more rational talk befitting the legal profession. English proficiency of the interviewees’ is well, irrelevant. Most of them in the documentary from both sides could barely speak English owing to their background. That’s perfectly OK. What’s NOT OK is that their (rapist and his defendants) stinking, low-level thoughts speak not just for the rapist but also for some of those in power in the parliament irrespective of the party and other similar mindsets in the general population irrespective of the gender.

And last but not the least -‘The USA HAS WAY FAR MORE RAPES THAN INDIA AS PER STATISTICAL RECORDS’. First, no is claiming that the USA is a Utopian place. Yes, every country is riddled with their own nagging problems and the US is no pretty exception. Coming to statistics, one needs to microscopically study and research these statistics before throwing them out as some kind of patriotic defense. Whatever is recorded in India statistically is only a tip of the iceberg. Remember and understand that in India and other similar countries, a sweeping lot of women related crimes go unreported/ unrecorded on account of public shame, fear and our loopholed judicial system. Also, question and probe the authenticity of India’s rape records. When they can’t even get our names right on the voters ID/driver’s license etc, when every record can be wiped out clean with a neat bribe, when women and their families fear not just the rapist thugs but also the thugs sitting in the garb cloaks of law and order, when women are leered and forced to be mindful of what they wear not just at dusk but also at the crack of dawn and after, then one needs to question these statistical figures. Unlike here, at least the officials do their duty – maintain records meticulously, keep handy and make available, a sex offenders’ list and give a fair trial. That’s what’s needed in India too. What do rape victims in India get? Shame, blame and no justice. 
Either ways if one watches it objectively or pseudo-patriotically, one cannot deny that whatever is shown is a common reality in India. It’s the truth… Why deny it? Worse still, ban it? 
In conclusion, I’m taking further liberties and tweaking with a popular children’s fairy tale as an analogy to the current ban on the documentary.

Once Upon a Time, there lived a powerful and  handsome Mahapurush in the real land of Hindustan. He would stand before his magic mirror to inquire, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” 

Each time, the mirror would respond, “Thou, O King, art the fairest in the land.” But over the years, the Bharatiya Nari  blossomed and evolved into her most beautiful form that transcended all barriers of patriarchs, gender inequality and self-doubt. Came the day when the mirror said to the powerful Mahapurush , “India’s Daughter, is the fairest and most beautiful of them all.”

From that moment on, ‘India’s Daughter’ was the object of the Mahapurush’s hatred. He wanted to teach her a befitting lesson that would render her to be powerless, voiceless and lifeless. And so, he took out not just the most juiciest , but also the most rotten and vile apple of the lust lot as his bait – The Rape Bait!

‘India’s Daughter’ is akin to the magical, talking mirror which not just pops up but also reveals transparently who indeed, is the fairest of them all. It could be the mighty all-Alpha Indian Male aka Mahapurush like it has always been from the very beginning. Or it could be the very formidable contender – ‘Bharatiya Nari’ Because, the times are changing, Mahapurush has to understand and learn to share his coveted spot willing to his truly fairer ‘Bharatiya Nari’. The magic Mirror doesn’t in any way suggest that the Indian society or it’s men are ugly per se. It merely holds a reflection of the scars and blemishes in an otherwise, greatly handsome nation. Scars and blemishes of blaring shortcomings that can easily be treated and done away it.

I end this article in hopeful prayer –

‘Let not the Mahapurush’s masculinity feel threatened by the Nari’s modernity. Let him not succumb to acts of eve-teasing, brutal violence and rape to put her back in her Medieval-age place. Let him learn to live and let live organically, peacefully and happily rest assured that there’s space for everybody under the sun.’

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Tina Sequeira
Tina Sequeira is a marketer and moonlighting writer. She is passionate about tech, creativity, and social justice—dabbling in and writing about the same.

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