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Movie review: Provoked

Aprajita Anil

Posted: Apr 06, 2007 at 1546 hrs IST

Movie: Provoked

Rating: ****

Cast: Kiranjit Ahluwalia (Aishwarya Rai), Deepak Ahluwalia (Naveen Andrews), Radha Dalal, (Nandita Das), Veronica Scott (Miranda Richardson), Lord Edward Foster (Robbie Coltrane)

Director: Jagmohan Mundhra

Sitting in the theatre for just 113 minutes and watching the torture unfold on the battered Punjabi housewife doesn't sound like a new concept, does it? But Provoked is out to establish no new notion.

It once happened. And now it's been told. And told with great power and precision.

Inspired by the real life traumatic story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia's biography, Circle of Light, Provoked traces the anguish and agony and delivers an act that would leave everyone thinking.

Unable to bear the brutality and recurring rapes by her alcoholic husband Deepak Ahluwalia (Naveen Andrews), the battered Kiranjit (Aishwarya Rai) sets him on fire and ends the saga of her 10-year-long assaulted and abused married life.

Kiranjit is charged with murder awarded life-imprisonment. Yet, the lady feels liberated!

Although she gradually learns to accept her life within the jail, her case is taken up by a non-profit group of Asian social workers running under an organisation called Southall Black Sisters. They bring her plight to the attention of the media by organising rallies and gathering public support.

And as luck would have it, Kiranjit's cellmate, Veronica Scott (Miranda Richardson) happens to the sister of Lord Edward Foster (Robbie Coltrane), a respected Queen's Counsel. Lord Foster takes up Kiranjit's cause and the English court in an unprecedented judgement pardons the accused and redefines the word 'Provocation' in the British law forever.

Mundhra's direction is very binding. Neither does he lose track nor does he overload the script with unwanted emotions and drama. The film immediately kick-starts with Kiranjit taking revenge from her husband.

The director has also, correctly chosen all his actors.

Aishwarya has done a good job. She has definitely brought forth the trauma and torture borne by the character. And the absence of her overdone make-up and glamorous good-looks has made her look more attractive (!) and fit into the role well.

Although it would be wrong to say that no other actress could have done a better job, the one reason why Aishwarya's presence makes a difference is because the actress is a brand value and a reason for many cinegoers to watch a film.

Naveen Andrews is brilliant. The actor fits so perfectly into his role that you would immediately get the wrong vibes.

To put it simply… you'll hate him from the word go!

Nandita Das being Nandita Das has performed well. However, it would be slightly wrong to say that the actress has put in her best. There are times when you feel she has gone overboard with her act.

Miranda Richardson is beautiful in her performance and her appearance.

All other actors too have done a good job.

Although Mundhra had the script served on his platter, but turning words into action is no easy business. And that's where Provoked takes the cake.

It doesn't have anything for the masala lovers nor for the comic freaks. It's a film of substance. A film based on real life. A film that would move many. A film that would make a difference in many a lives.

It's more than all this and if missed it, you would miss a lot!

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