Provoked director Jag Mundhra has a resumé filled with direct-to-video erotic thriller credits, which goes a long way toward explaining why his latest effort, a clunky social picture about abused women, is shot like a softcore skin flick. Based on a real-life case, the film recounts how immigrant Kiranjit Ahluwalia (Indian movie star Aishwarya Rai) helped change domestic battery laws in Britain via her efforts to appeal the life sentence she received for murdering her domineering, violent husband Deepak (Naveen Andrews), a historic tale of triumph that Mundhra douses in Old Hollywood-meets-Bollywood aesthetics. Soft lighting for close-ups of Rai (in a one-expression-fits-all performance), an unrelenting melodramatic score, and crummy fades to black all contribute to the production’s sub-TV amateurishness. Such sloppiness is made moderately more palatable by the appearance of Rebecca Pidgeon, Miranda Richardson, and Robbie Coltrane, as the esteemed British thesps provide the sloppy proceedings with a measure of basic professionalism. Richardson in particular is so vigorously hammy as Kiranjit’s cellmate and hubby-killing kindred spirit Ronnie that the film is by and large only interesting when she’s on screen, talking tough and strutting about like the cock of the prison walk. Carl Austin and Rahila Gupta’s script is too stilted and corny—as well as filled with redundant flashbacks to Deepak slapping his wife around, and awful scenes involving the nonprofit women’s group that aided Kiranjit’s cause—to be affecting, but it is, from time to time, unintentionally funny, as when heart-of-gold roughneck Ronnie protects Kiranjit by standing up to the penitentiary’s Bluto-like butch bully. Still, despite introducing the notion that Kiranjit’s unfair conviction was the byproduct of xenophobia and sexism, the film fails to meaningfully investigate or elaborate upon such aspects of its true-life story, too concerned with rah-rah sermonizing and the ensuing rounds of celebratory slow-clapping.
- Eros International
- 113 min
- Jag Mundhra
- Carl Austin, Rahila Gupta
- Aishwarya Rai, Miranda Richardson, Naveen Andrews, Ray Panthaki, Nadita Das, Robbie Coltrane, Rebecca Pidgeon
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