Friday, August 3, 2007

Provoked: A True Story

"Provoked" is the true story of a battered wife who fought back, first against her husband and then against the system. Full of optimism and affection, newlywed Kiranjit Ahluwalia (Aishwarya Rai) arrives at the doorstep of her new home and life with husband Deepak (Naveen Andrews). She would continue her law studies as her family had promised and the couple would start a family. The future offered only pain.The drunken Deepak beats her for the first time and shows remorse. He beats her again. It gets easier. After 10 years of violence, a dazed Kiranjit can take no more. She resorts to a desperate act that kills Deepak. She is convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Incarceration tests the outwardly meek Kiranjit’s toughness at every turn, but the mother of two has suffered worse at home. She develops an ally in the mischievous Ronnie (Miranda Richardson), who also doled out the ultimate retribution to her abusive spouse. While Kiranjit acclimates to life behind bars, Radha (Nandita Das), an activist with the Southall Black Sisters, glimpses a tabloid headline about her case and springs into action. A barrister (Rebecca Pidgeon) with limited resources cannot make any headway, igniting greater determination in Radha, who rallies public opinion. Ronnie is denied parole but she has a secret weapon on the outside to help Kiranjit: Ronnie’s estranged brother-in-law Lord Foster (Robbie Coltrane), an influential legal eagle. Kiranjit’s appeal gains momentum when Radha persuades a cop to change his knowingly false testimony that Kiranjit was in her right mind the night of the killing.Arguing passionately before the high court, Lord Foster moves the judge to change the fate of many battered women forever. The court rules that a prolonged period of beatings could cause the victim’s loss of reason in a delayed act of self-defense. The concept of “provocation” is redefined and is now a primary defense for the severely abused if a claim of self-defense is not valid. The judge reduces Kiranjit’s crime to manslaughter and orders her released for the 3 years and 4 months she already served. Claiming she felt liberated in prison, Kiranjit is free again. This time, without walls.
At least this was better than Mistress of Spices (2005) that Aishwarya Rai also stared in. I still wonder about Rai's ability to be a great actress. The acting in the film does not feel real and seems more like a High School Play instead of a feature film.

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