English the only hitch as activist shows rape documentary at convicts’ slum

  • Prawesh Lama, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 13, 2015 09:07 IST

Sant Ravi Dass Camp that shot to notoriety when four of its residents raped a young physiotherapist in a moving bus on Thursday came face to face with the ugly truth. Some didn’t like what they saw and for many, the message was lost in translation.

Defying the ban on India’s Daughter, independent filmmaker Ketan Dixit held a screening of the controversial documentary in the low-income colony in south Delhi. Dixit had screened the film on March 8 in Agra to protest the ban. He was even detained for a short time there, but that doesn’t seem to have deterred him.

“I saw a few snatches of the film from outside my house. My son had refused to be in the movie,” Hari Ram told HT.

His son, Vinay Kumar, is one of the four convicts who have challenged in the Supreme Court the death sentence awarded to them for the gruesome rape and murder that shook the country.

T hough the screen was pitched outside his house, Ram chose not to watch. His two younger children were among the audience, largely made up of women and kids as most of the men were out for work.

“The children went, I didn’t,” Ram said. “I was even offered money by the gori madam (director Leslee Udwin) for an interview but I refused. She even offered to pay for my ear surgery but I didn’t want the money,” said Ram.

Udwin’s interview of Mukesh Singh, the bus driver, in which he blames the young woman for the rape was cited by the police when they sought the ban.

Over the last three years, residents have got used to finding TV crew and journalists in their midst. Thursday was the same except in place of cameras, there was a projector, a laptop and a big white sheet .

There were protests from women when one of Dixit’s men told them they were to screen the “gang-rape film” but a group of children standing nearby cheered. It took some time for the crew to convince the grown-ups.

By 3.15pm, the screen had been set in a narrow lane dividing two rows of tinned-roof oneroom houses. A wooden stool was brought out from a nearby home for the projector and the show was on.

“There was too much light and we could hardly see a thing. We didn’t understand, everything was in English,” said Tara Devi. The film didn’t impress her friends either who left midway with her.

There was a man who translated the movie in Hindi for them but couldn’t hold his audience whose numbers continued to fall.

In the end, only children were left.

“I returned from school and saw my friends watching a movie on the laptop. They were not using the screen,” said a young boy. “I saw Mukesh and there is no change, he looks the same.”

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