ApunKaChoice : Bollywood


ProvokedProvoked : Movie Review
06th Apr 2007  22.03 IST
By Aparajita Ghosh  

Jagmohan Mundhra's movie Provoked is based on a very pertinent subject on which only few movies have been made either in India or in the West.

The issue of domestic violence is universal. Yet it is not so frequently talked about in cinema. 'Provoked' tells one such true story of a woman who suffered for years at the hands of her abusive husband.

With such a hard-hitting subject, 'Provoked' should have turned out to be a powerful film. Sadly, the movie doesn't curdle your blood. It as much stirs you a bit and leaves you feeling empathetic and sympathetic to the story's protagonist.

Instead of going into the minds of its characters, the movie skims the story's surface and merely recounts instances of abuse from the life of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, whose story 'Provoked' tells.

'Provoked' is based on the book 'Circle Of Light' by Rahila Gupta and Kiranjit Ahluwalia. It is a heart-wrenching true tale of a woman from Punjab who is married to a man in England.

The movie begins quite brilliantly. Kiranjit ( Aishwarya Rai ), wearing a persecuted, harried look, sets her sleeping husband on fire. A series of questions pile up regarding the reason for this desperate action. The answers come in a series of flashbacks in which Kiranjit's married life is unraveled.

Kiranjit, a meek and submissive girl from Punjab gets married to Deepak ( Naveen Andrews ). But it doesn't take long for her dream of a happily married life to shatter. Over the course of many years, she is repeatedly tortured, abused and raped by her alcoholic, insensitive and infidel husband. The only ray of happiness in her life is her two kids.

One day, Kiranjit decides to take no more abuse from her husband. So she puts a gasoline soaked rug on him and sets him on fire.

Kiranjit is arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. In the prison she finds a friend in a white inmate named Veronica Scott (Miranda Richardson). Apparently, Veronica is an influential woman and she helps Kiranjit file an appeal in the judicial court.

On the other hand, a group of Asian social workers called Southall Black Sisters take Kiranjit's cause and begin to garner support for her case to be retried.

What follows is a historical verdict in British judiciary. Kiranjit is acquitted and reunited with her kids.

On paper, the story of 'Provoked' is deeply disturbing and it ends on a hopeful note. Alas, the impact doesn't really come through in the film because of its somewhat amateurish screenplay by Paul Austin and Rahila Gupta. And director Jagmohan Mundhra seems more concerned with chronicling the tale of Kiranjit rather than going into the mindsets of the story's characters. Also, the movie sort of tries to justify Kiranjit's extreme action (killing her husband) rather than suggesting that it is better to walk out of such failed marriages.

Aishwarya Rai rises above the poorly conceived screenplay and infuses life into the movie with her very convincing portrayal of Kiranjit. Ash's eyes are highly expressive in many scenes and her dialogue delivery in Punjabi is absolutely credible.

Naveen Andrews plays his part with such conviction that you would love to hate him. Nandita Das , as the head of Southall Black Sisters, is effective in her small part. Miranda Richardson is impressive as the endearing and assertive prison inmate who befriends Kiranjit.

On the whole, 'Provoked' is a film made with good intentions but not good enough sensitivity. The movie does work in patches, but it fails to leave the hard-hitting impact that it should have to justify its incredibly important subject.

Rating: **

Aishwarya Rai
Naveen Andrews
Jagmohan Mundhra
Nandita Das

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