I can't imagine enduring what she did but her suffering caused her to grow considerably stronger than she thought possible and luckily in her case justice prevailed. In many cases of spousal abuse this is not the case... Aishwarya is captivating! Worth watching especially if you've experienced this type of treatment or know someone who has.
In British Legal History, there are few cases that are as widely known and recognised by that of Kiranjit Ahluwalia. It was talked about much when it was in the news, and it was extremely controversial due to its determining on the court's judgements of provocation. The case saw Kiranjit suffer 10 years of abuse from her husband Deepak. As retaliation one night that she had been abused, she took a flammable liquid, poured it on a sleeping Deepak, and set him alight. It sparked mass media attention, at a time where it was widely known that the British Police Force were strongly racist at the time. The film Provoked is a dramatisation of that story. As a student of Law, I didn't watch the film to be entertained or see it as art: I saw it to see how the legislation on defining Provocation in court changed. However, that doesn't mean that I didn't recognise the good and bad things about the film, as I was still in my film-buff mindset as I was watching the film.
So I've already stated that the case followed Kiranjit's killing of her husband. The film displays Kiranjit's life in prison and appeals, and follows flashbacks that show that Deepak was initially a very caring husband, but soon became the abusing man that we know him has. He drank a lot, slept with other women, and often raped Kiranjit; claiming that it was his right. It was a truly sickening story, further cemented by the fact that it was a true story. It's hard to believe that people can actually be so cruel and despicable. I've not felt so much sickening emotion and pure sadness towards the human race since the Elephant Man. However, I hated the flashback way of revealing parts of the story. There were certain parts of the case that weren't revealed until the court scenes. When they show the flashbacks, they seem to be too distracting. The best example I can give involves Deepak's mother in court. She states that she herself never witnessed Deepak abusing his wife. Straight after this statement, a flashback is played. It shows that she witnessed a cruel act and reveals that she was aware that her son was having an affair, something that was against their culture. The scene cuts back to the court scene. The reason that this was put into the film was to build tension, and was supposed to make us hate the film's adaptation of the person. It didn't work, and it was completely unfitting. It doesn't have a sense of subtlety. I have a major problem with the plot though, and it only lasted a couple of seconds. In the case, it is known that Kiranjit set fire to Deepak intentionally: it was her actions. In one of the flashbacks, it tries to hint that it was an accident. The scene begins with Kiranjit performing the acts in the case, when Deepak suddenly awakens. He begins kicking around, and knocks the candle that Kiranjit was holding out of her hand. It's clear that she didn't throw it on him; it's portrayed in the film as an accident. It completely goes against the rest of the film's idea of defending Kiranjit's actions on the basis of Provocation. That's a huge problem that really brings the film down. It's even more frustrating because it's so simple to look at this and think "That's not what happened in the case". I know people are going to attempt to defend this action by saying that it's a fictionalisation of the actual event, but it's still completely opposite to what the film is trying to set out. Imagine if in the Elephant Man they changed it so that everyone believed that the person who ran the Freak Show never hit John Merrick, but the film then show us clips that show that he never caused any harm to him. It would completely go against what the film had already established.
Aishwarya Rai plays the lead role as Kiranjit Ahluwalia. Rai does a good job at imitating the person we had seen in the news story videos. However, I never felt the emotion of her. When we were meant to be feeling sad about her remembering the time she was raped, I wasn't convinced by the performance. It seemed that the genuine shock and the sorrow that the character was experiencing was being forced by the Actress. The same can be said of Naveen Andrews as Kiranjit's husband Deepak. I never bought him as the abusive husband that he was meant to be. I know that they were trying to portray them as real people, but it doesn't change the fact that they weren't convincing. What annoyed me is that they got Robbie Coltrane in the film. Coltrane is an actor I like. Coltrane is a respected actor and a big name in Britain and it seems that they hired him just for his name. He's completely miscast as Kiranjit's lawyer towards the end of the film. Any actor could have played the role.
I felt cheated a lot of the time with the emotions. It didn't seem to be the actual story at times trying to get a reaction from you: rather the score. It was unbelievably strong, and tried to manipulate your emotional reaction to the situation. When the anger of Deepak was about to be displayed on Kiranjit, the score would get really strong and would be heavy on drums and such. It was a lazy technique that the film followed, and ruined what could have been the film's strongest element. One of the biggest weaknesses of the film is the dialogue. It's terrible. It sounds really cliché and not at all like real speech. The court scenes are uninteresting because they are poorly written, and it says a lot when I dislike a Court Scene.
Provoked is a story that was worth telling; but I don't think that it should have been as a film like this. The end result is a film that would just as easily worked as a TV Drama, or perhaps a documentary. As a film, it really falls short. I'm not criticising it for telling the story of Kiranjit's court case, because it was a hugely important event in UK Law. I just feel that it shouldn't have been told the way it does here.
Andrew's rating: 3 out of 10