Leslee’s Liasons: the Inside Story

Cross Posted from The New Indian Express 

By Yatish Yadav

Published: 08th Mar 2015 06:00:00 AM


A rapist in a brown and white check shirt staring impassively at the camera, speaking soto voce that Nirbhaya, the victim of the December 16, 2012 gangrape, had asked for it. A 57-year-old British film producer and actress Leslee Udwin who shot him inside Delhi’s infamous Tihar Jail is crying that the Indian government has banned her documentary India’s Daughter and muzzled freedom of expression. A missing film producer named Anjali Bhushan. A newborn film company named Tathagath under whose banner Udwin produced the documentary and  has left no traces of its existence. The funder of India’s Daughter, Tribeca Film Institute which is financed by the Ford Foundation, a body under the scanner of Indian agencies for funding PRS’s Lamp Scheme in India. A carefully constructed web of film companies whose presence fade in and out as if through the lens of a camera. Behind the outrage on the social media and the anger of columnists and editorial writers over the ban of the documentary lies a story of deception, circumvention of rules and a host of missing links that suggest that Leslee Udwin’s story is not just what it seems to be—a gift to India.

The storm broke after February 27, when the BBC magazine carried an item about the worldwide release of the film, announcing the contents, including an exclusive interview by one of the rapists, Mukesh Singh. A crew numbering four to five people shot interviews of the gang-rape convicts inside Tihar Jail in October 2013 after being granted unhindered access for six to seven days by jail authorities. Mysteriously, the arrangements were fixed by an unknown Gurgaon-based photographer who “happened to know” some jail officials.


THE LADY VANISHES: “Dig deep and you will find a scoop behind the making of India’s Daughter”, claims an intelligence officer involved in the probe into the making of the documentary. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on March 4 had assured Parliament that the government will inquire into the matter. He also clarified that the Tihar Jail authorities gave permissions for the shoot to Udwin and Anjali Bhushan. While Udwin, owner of Assassin Films, last week appeared on all major TV channels crying foul over the ban and hogging the international limelight, Bhushan through whom Udwin got permission to shoot inside Tihar is missing from the film’s credit roll.

Indian government rules state that a foreign filmmaker is not allowed entry inside an Indian prison. An MHA official, probing any violation of contract in the filming of India’s Daughter, claims Leslee partnered with an Indian co-producer to circumvent the rule and gain access to the jail premises.

A tale of tricks of the trade

  • The producers didn’t take requisite approval before telecast
  • Filmmakers were asked not to release/screen the documentary till it is approved by the authorities but premier date was fixed without getting the necessary permission.
  • Did Leslee apply for documentary filmmaker visa under Passport (Entry into India) Act 1920, and the Registration of Foreigners Rules, 1992?
  • She used only Mukesh Singh’s byte and not of other convicts.
  • Investigators claim the film was made for commercial benefit rather for social study as originally claimed by the filmmaker while seeking permission for interview.
  • Investigators probing the role of ‘Tathagat films’, the Indian partner of Leslee Udwin’s Assassin Films.

India’s Daughter: Frame by Frame

  • July 24, 2013:  Home ministry grants permission to Leslee Udwin and Anjali Bhushan to shoot a documentary inside Tihar Jail
  • Oct 7, 2013: Consent letter of December 12 gang-rape convict taken
  • Jan 9, 2014: Udwin receives funding from Worldview. The grant is announced jointly for Udwin’s Assassin Films Ltd (UK) and Bhushan’s Apricot Sky Entertainment (India).
  • April 7, 2014: Tihar Jail authorities detect violation in permission conditions for shoot and a legal notice is served. The notice to Leslee asks her to return the unedited footage within 15 days and also not to show the film as it violates the permission conditions.
  • May-June 2014: Documentary is shown to jail authorities where it is noticed that the film depicts the comments of the convict which are highly derogatory. The filmmaker is requested to provide full copy of the unedited film for further review by the authorities and that they are asked not to release/screen the documentary till it is approved by the authorities.
  • June 10, 2014: Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund is awarded to Udwin for India’s Daughter.
  • Feb 27 , 2015: BBC Magazine publishes curtain-raiser on India’s Daughter highlighting rape convict Mukesh Singh’s interview and schedule of world premiere on March 8
  • March 3, 2015: Uproar in Parliament, Delhi Police registers FIR under Section 509 (outraging the modesty of women) and Section 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of trust) of the IPC.
  • March 4, 2015 : Protest by lawmakers in Parliament forces government to ban the film. Google and YouTube are asked to remove the links.
  • March 4, 2015: BBC and some other channels in Europe advance telecast of the documentary by four days.

Cross posted from The Sunday Standard – New Indian Express (You can read the original by clicking here)

Vishada Yoga to VFABI 2013

When in my life did I ever feel so cynical or despondent as today? I am sure many of us have asked and resigned into accepting this as a necessary evil and aspect of our life.

  • Scams after Scams – each one of them trying to scream “I am better than you”
    • A photo gallery is here – just 8 of them Value of which is enough to put Zeroes in Infinity to shame  –
    • Remember there are 100+ listed by various bloggers, one of which is here
    • Another innovative list of Top-10 here 
  • Misdeeds in Temples of Democracy
    • Bugging Finance Minister’s Office,
    • Sexcapades in SC Chambers
    • Bugging Retired General’s Residence
  • Demeaning/Misusing Parliamentary Institutions
    • Army Chief Age Issue
    • Attacking  CAG
    • CBI
    • Even Office of the Speaker/Chairman of RajyaSabha (LokPal Bill)
  • Callous and “Who cares” approach to Issues facing the nation
    • Delhi Gang rape
    • Border Killing (Mutilation and Disfiguring of our Jawans)

When appeasement is a norm especially when it comes to Minority communities (Read Muslims) – Yes, surprisingly the other communities including Linguistic grouping never vote en bloc like how Muslims in India do – Even a proven brutal and horrific rape accused is being protected, citing Laws just because he answers to a Secular Name. And more juvenile was our Home Minister’s statement on Steps for Rape Prevention – Framed it immortalize it for the Stupidity Value. Do the Government seem serious in addressing a serious issue of Rapes (Delhi still maintains Position as Rape Capital, way above the next worst city and Not surprised with this retrogrades as decision maker)


A war widow and martyr’s mother fasts not for any favors but just to get back the martyr’s head that is so used to be held high but today dismembered and taken by Pakistan army as a trophy. They wanted it back to complete the final rites and the Authorities seem to be making no efforts toward that end, but forcing the family to call off their protest (I won’t be surprised some threats about withholding pensions etc. ) A wimpy response is what our Government decides to dish out to the perpetrators of this inhuman war crime. Adamance that the Visa regime would stay, send out trucks with perishables which was brazenly stopped at the LOC (not Lost out Control) yet this Goverment Crawls on its knees pleading with these Rogue State but did not hesitate to train their Water guns or Lathis (and boots) on innocent and peaceful protestors


Image: Demonstrators shout slogans as police use water cannons to disperse them near the presidential palace during a protest rally in New Delhi

And this is how Owaissi was received – with complete security resembling a Victory Procession:

The Hindu Reporting Arrest of Owaisi

What now? Do I let despondency take over me and stun me into inaction? Do I let  Doubt  feed on doubt or counter it and let it die. Despondency degenerates into cynicism, faultfinding, doom, gloom, pessimism or do we make emphasize on hopes and attract it to our lives.  Negativity nudges us towards despondency and inaction.

No! it is time for action. We cannot let the destiny of our Nation (and the world) drift. Time to take charge and make things happen by design. Strength is in Numbers – Sanghe Shakti Kaliyuge – Said some learned Saint of Bharath in the past. It is applicable more than ever before.

Here is a reply from His Holiness Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of The Art of Living in response to a question:

Q: If one faces failure in some task again and again, should I continue to do the same, or should I drop that?
Sri Sri : There is one proverb in India, “Task gets accomplished with the Sattva, and not with the material”. So, in order to get something done, sattogun should rise. And what does one do to increase Sattogun? With right food, right conduct, and relaxing your mind for some time – This is first. Secondly, even if you face failure in spite of that, sattogun doesn’t let your enthusiasm to shatter, and when that driving force is still there, you don’t even think of dropping. Like if gambler wins once, he develops that taste to win. And then he continues to play again and again with the wish to win, and even when some failure is encountered, he doesn’t even think of dropping in between. Even during some failure, that strong conviction of achieving some good is there, and this conviction will be there when you have that dedication for the task. Like, with enthusiasm in action and peace in heart, people kept fighting for freedom for two centuries.
The ones who were fighting for freedom, they didn’t get any money, they didn’t steal anything, but did they leave the drive?

And third factor, look for the reason of failure. Every failure is a step towards success. One reason can be some weakness in oneself or some weak point in the system, arrangements. Self weakness – like someone is not able to present the work properly. E.g. if you go for interview, and say some words here and there, then interviewer develops a doubt if you would be able to do that or not. So, one doesn’t get job because of one’s weakness. To get rid of one’s weakness, enhance your abilities.

Each failure is a step towards success, so analyze what did you learn out of this? Did you flow with the emotions? You didn’t consult those who are already into that profession? You didn’t trust them, or you didn’t keep faithful people with you. All these reasons could be there. So, to get rid of any weakness, enhance your ability, and go into the depth of knowledge of the field in which you wish to move ahead.

Second is to amend the system or arrangements. Now, this is not in hands of a single person. Like if corruption is to be checked, can you fight alone? Be with the group. Awaken that intelligence in people for that. Get people to move ahead with you. “Sanghe Shakti Kaliyuge”

In Kalyuga, the power is in the team. People say that it is the peak of Kalyuga, and it is as if truth has taken a backseat. If you feel like that, then work in a team. Take some people along and then see if the task gets accomplished or not. To enhance capability, you would have to do something yourself, go within yourself. Be in the world to get more people along, and be with yourself to gain abilities. Taking along both the fields, you will definitely get success in your tasks. If you have given all your trials, put in your 100 percent and if, even then, you didn’t get success, then it is OK. Take some other work in your hands. But don’t run away if you face failure for the first or second time.

Volunteer For A Better India (VFABI). This is a Citizens’ Action Plan – each one of us can make a difference. A large number of partners including the United Nations are supporting this. Visit www.vfabi.org

Just an hour of ours invested in making a difference would do – raises us too. Conquer Despondency and Inertia! Lord Krishna’s advise to Arjuna in the very chapter is more relevant today 🙂