Over 25 versions available for download. Smartphone video piracy. Innovative titles like Desh ki beti. Ban or not, there’s just no keeping a lid on the controversial documentary India’s Daughter, which features an interview with Mukesh Singh — one of the six people convicted for brutally raping a 23-year-old woman on December 16, 2012. Millions have already seen the documentary, shot by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin, and the viral spread is far from over.
YouTube complied with a BBC request and removed some videos of the film posted by users following its UK broadcast on Thursday but this only seemed to have increased curiosity. Videos kept cropping up with new titles. Some of the popular downloads were of Desh ki beti (English version), Nirbhaya, and the Rapist Speaks.
Free download websites were also flooded with Mukesh Singh’s interview inside Tihar Jail in which he blamed the 23-year-old victim for the rape. Torrentz, VideoStripe and MoviesCrib were some of the websites where the movie went viral.
More interest was generated with Oscar winning actress Meryl Streep and Frieda Pinto backing the film and deciding to attend its US premiere next week.
“I could not watch the movie when it was up on YouTube but I made sure that I downloaded it. There is so much talk around the movie that it added to my curiosity. I agree that I was scared initially but I wanted to know what was there in movie that was making news,” said Sahil Malhotra, a Delhi University student.
Excerpts of the movie were still in circulation on YouTube despite the video-sharing website pulling out the film uploaded by BBC. A video uploaded by Inder Singh on March 6 — soon the BBC video was taken off — got 98,723 views in four hours.
“Banning is never a solution for any problem. I don’t want to direct public opinion but at least watching this will help them form an opinion. We need a culture of debate and discussion,” Singh said.
Many bloggers too took it upon themselves to upload the movie along with their opinion pieces. “The movie became a bigger hit not because of the topic that it spoke of but because of the intolerance that our government showed towards it. For the first time a rape convict spoke on camera, exposing a larger mentality. Instead of addressing the issue we chose to cover it up,” said Surbhi Singh, an independent blogger.