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ON SCREEN - Provoked

4 Votes | Average: 3.75 out of 54 Votes | Average: 3.75 out of 54 Votes | Average: 3.75 out of 54 Votes | Average: 3.75 out of 54 Votes | Average: 3.75 out of 5 (4 votes, average: 3.75 out of 5)
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ProvokedFilm : Provoked
Starring : Aishwarya Rai, Naveen Andrews, Nandita Das, Miranda Richardson
Director : Jagmohan Mundhra

Provoked, a true life account made into a film has been a much awaited release for Aishwarya, since she is seen in a new de-glam version throughout.
“In Prison, she found her freedom” is the tagline of the film, based on the life of Kiranjit Alhuwalia, an Indian lady who burnt her husband alive after ten years of living with his brutal physical abuse.

Kiranjit (Aishwarya) comes from Punjab and is married to Deepak Alhuwalia (Naveen Andrews) who lives in London. Soon after the marriage Deepak begins to beat and abuse her citing petty reasons. His escapades increase with attempts to molest her even while having affairs with white women.

His mother is unsympathetic when Kiranjit lands in jail after setting her husband on fire one night, while he is asleep. In the ensuing court battle, the mother-in-law hides facts of abuse from the court and Kiran is sentenced for life for first degree murder.
In jail however, she is befriended by Veronica Scott ( Miranda ) who teaches her English and gives her lessons in self confidence, even while making her step brother, a highly respected queen’s counsel, take up her case for free.

The Southhall Black sisters, led by Nandita, come to her rescue as well, taking up her cause by organising public support.

Finally she is freed by the courts and the term provocation is redefined under British law, in the case of battered women.

Though the cause of the film is a noble one and the director has attempted to do justice to it, perhaps the choice of Aishwarya for the role is what holds the film back from creating a fuller impact. Though the lady has done her best, she is not able to carry the audiences with her in the lonely battle that she wages. Small points like her elegant gait, the missing Punjabi accent and the sophistication of the actress come through several times during the film, forcing viewers to realise it’s the model actress playing a part and not Kiranjit that we see on screen.

But then again, would any other actress have got so much international attention to the movie and thus to the cause of battered women as Aishwarya has done? Maybe not. Which explains the choice of heroine perhaps.

Nandita and Miranda do ample justice to their roles though the court scenes are a bit dragging and viewer attention may flag during some of them, keeping the technicalities in mind.

The jail scenes seem a trifle contrived at times, with typical bullying characters and fights. Many angles have been left out, like the part played ( if any) by Kiranjit’s own family and what other measures she resorted to, before deciding to burn her husband.

Overall, keeping the cause and the true nature of the story in mind, one can view this passable film at least once. But don’t go in with any great expectations and you wont be disappointed.

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