Deepa Mehta’s film on December 16 Delhi gangrape to be screened in Toronto

  • Anirudh Bhattacharyya, Hindustan Times, Toronto
  • Updated: Aug 04, 2016 14:02 IST
A still from Deepa Mehta’s film Anatomy of Violence, that will have its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. (Photo courtesy: TIFF)

British filmmaker Leslie Udwin’s documentary on the horrific December 2012 gang-rape in Delhi was blocked from broadcast in India courtesy a court order but renowned Indo-Canadian director Deepa Mehta has now addressed the same event in a feature that will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September.

“Anatomy Of Violence” will be showcased in the Masters section of the festival, among three premier film events internationally. In a statement announcing the programming of the film, TIFF described it as a “devastating fictional dramatisation of the lives of the rapists.”

Read: If one film wins, four lose: Deepa Mehta

“‘What makes monsters?’ is a question that this film stares directly at. It probes and explores where these young men could have come from and what might have motivated them. They have been called ‘monsters’ but is this a simplistic labelling that relieves society and leaders from the responsibility of looking more deeply?” the filmmakers said.

The film is an attempt to “imagine what might have driven these men towards such a savage assault. The film also imagines the nature of the young woman’s life, her family, her friends and her hopes and dreams before the fatal attack,” they said.

Read: A flavour of India as Toronto film festival celebrates 40 years

The 93-minute feature in Hindi “mixes fiction and fact in an improvised exploration of the events leading up to, and following” the atrocity that shook India and the world.

The film has an ensemble cast that includes Indian actress Seema Biswas, Indo-Canadian actress Tia Bhatia and Indian actor Vansh Bhardwaj, recently seen in “Udta Punjab”.

Coincidentally, this year’s edition of TIFF features the world premiere of a documentary by Deepa Mehta’s brother Dilip: “Mostly Sunny”. The subject is Canadian porn star-turned-Bollywood actress Sunny Leone.

TIFF noted that the documentary “asks what makes Sunny tick, and explores the birthplace of the Kama Sutra’s paradoxical relationship with sex”. Dilip Mehta was elated that, for the first time, both siblings have a film premiering at the same festival.

Read: Sharmila Tagore, Freida Pinto, Deepa Mehta invited to vote for Oscars

His sister has been a regular and honoured participant at TIFF. Her feature, “Beeba Boys”, premiered at TIFF last year and examined the phenomenon of Indo-Canadian gangs in Vancouver and its suburbs. Her adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children” was similarly showcased at TIFF.

This, though, is the first time Deepa Mehta will present a feature that could be placed in the docudrama category. It could prove this Oscar-nominated director’s most challenging project yet given the sensitivities that still surround the subject in India.

Six people, including a juvenile, had assaulted the woman in a moving bus in South Delhi on December 16, 2012. Later, the accused threw out the victim and her male friend at an isolated spot. She died in a Singapore hospital on December 29, 2012, triggering nationwide protests.

Read: International actors should learn from Indian actors, says Deepa Mehta

One of the convicts in the case, a juvenile, was sent to the shelter home. The Delhi high court refused to stay his release, allowing him to walk free on December 20 last year.

Five other adults convicted for the crime were sentenced to death. Of them, one was found dead in his Tihar Jail cell in a suspected suicide.

The incident led to tougher laws for crime against woman in the country.

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