CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Drama
  • 2007
  • 113 mins

Provoked

Provoked

Synopsis

Ashwarya Rai, Robbie Coltrane and Miranda Richardson star in this sensitive Anglo-Indian dramatisation of the real life story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, a survivor of domestic violence

About

People of a certain age will vividly recall the murder trial of Southall factory worker Kiranjit Ahluwalia at the start of the 1990s, her life imprisonment and the subsequent campaign for her release. Watching Provoked, the reality of her ordeal is rekindled.

Ahluwalia (Rai) endured 10 years of violence and abuse at the hands of her husband Deepak (Andrews). Isolated within a community which refused to acknowledge her suffering, Ahluwalia set her husband alight while he slept. The court dismissed her years of mental, physical and emotional abuse claiming it was "not serious" and Ahluwalia was charged with murder.

Provoked tracks Ahluwalia's time behind bars up to the mounting campaign which led to her release in 1992. Taking on the role of the abused woman, Aishwaryia Rai gives a stoic and understated performance, powerfully capturing Ahluwalia's simmering torment. She is befriended in prison by fellow inmate Sara Thornton (Richardson).

Naveen Andrew's portrayal of Deepak is startling. The actor conveys Deepak's brutality towards his wife, deviating between violence and acts of contrition - common to abusers. Nandita Das, meanwhile, brings angst, fervour and sensitivity to her role as one of the campaigners committed to freeing Ahluwalia.

At the heart of the film is the relationship between Ahluwalia and Sara, which proved vital to Ahluwalia's eventual release. Rai and Richardson share an easy camaraderie and, by dint of their unaffected performances, their unlikely friendship is tenderly developed. While it's disconcerting to see Steve McFadden (Phil Mitchell in 'EastEnders') sharing a screen with Aishwaryia Rai, this is a strong cast, all of whom contribute to the proceedings.

The narrative is well constructed, the flashback sequences effectively capturing the backstory of escalating abuse. The scenes portraying the violence to which Ahluwalia was subjected throughout her marriage are necessarily difficult to watch, conveying the severity of the abuse she suffered, but without being lurid.

It's a bold undertaking for a Bollywood star of Aishwaryia's magnitude, and testimony to her commitment to the film, which without her star power, might not have been made. Indeed, Rai's very presence will ensure that this story reaches a wider audience than it might otherwise have. Provoked is certain to encourage debate about domestic violence in the Asian community.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Steve McFadden, Naveen Andrews, Aishwarya Rai, Nandita Das, Miranda Richardson, Robbie Coltrane, Rajji James, Ray Panthaki
  • Director: Jag Mundrha
  • Screen Writer: Carl Austin, Rahila Gupta
  • Producer: Sunanda Murali Manohar
  • Photographer: Madhu Ambat
  • Composer: AR Rahman

In a nutshell

A bold story, told with sensitivity and compassion.

by Poonam Joshi

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Woman In Black 2

    The Woman In Black: Angel Of Death

    The spectral 'woman in black' feeds off the loss and trauma of Second World War evacuees in this gothic sequel from director Tom Harper (The Scouting Book For Boys)

  • Film4 Men In Black 3

    Men In Black 3

    Agent J (Will Smith) travels back to the 1960s to stop an alien from assassinating a young Agent K (Josh Brolin) and changing the course of history

  • Film4 Muppet Christmas Carol

    Boxing Day 2014 on Film4

    Film4's lineup on Boxing Day 2014

  • Film4 In Fear

    In Fear on Film4

    Alice Englert and Iain De Caestecker star as a new couple driving through Ireland who become lost and the target of a mystery tormentor

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Joe Cunningham's 11 recommendations for LFF 14

    Unfortunately I haven¿t been jet setting around the world this year to the various exciting international film festivals, but that¿s what makes the London Film Festival¿s compilation approach to progr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Michael Leader's 11 recommendations for LFF 2014

    One of the best things about the London Film Festival¿s smorgasbord approach to programming is that, amongst the world premieres and gala screenings, there¿s an eclectic collection of exciting films o

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share