By Martin D’Souza, Bollywood Trade News Network
Being a true story, this movie might find a lot many takers. Just for the curiosity factor on how Kiranjit Alhuwalia managed to live with an abusive husband for 10 years. How she endured the pain and humiliation and the final decision she made to teach her husband a lesson by deciding to burn his legs. But things went horribly wrong and her husband died in the bargain. Her cellmates tell her that she should have done it ages ago!
But there’s just that – the curiosity factor. Director Jagmohan Mundhra has an ace up his sleeve but fails to deliver it, thanks to the casting which is found wanting. Unlike Deepa Mehta’s WATER and Mira Nair’s NAMESAKE, where the directors have penciled in their cast who have performed to the T, the same cannot be said about Mundhra’s PROVOKED.
Having said that, Naveen Andrews as Deepak Alhuwalia, the psychopath husband is first rate. He gives inkling on what type of a man Deepak was, his foul language, terrible temper and excessive use of hands at the drop of a hat. I’m sure Kiranjit might have gone through a gamut of emotions those 10 horrible years. Aishwarya Rai, in that respect is found wanting. Had the director guided her to be forceful, the movie would have got the required impetus.
Also, surprisingly, Nandita Das, is a few notches lower, performance wise, than her usual self. Not convincing.
But what is convincing are the prison scenes and the selection of the inmates which again is first rate. The director, it appears, put in his energies in making the prison scenes as real as possible.
If at all this film makes it, it will be because it sends across a strong message on how one should not live with an abusive spouse. In India, there are many women who live under the thumb of their husbands, and suffer in silence. If this movie can stir those women to get out of their ‘prison’ and provoke them into standing up for what is right, then Mundhra would have had his bouquets.
This movie is a tribute to the grit of Kiranjit Alhuwalia, who triumphed against terrible odds. A role model for women. Being a man, I salute her. Not for what she did, it was an accident, but for the way she fought to keep her marriage alive. That she lost her husband in the fight is what the story is all about!!