Provoked: based on the true story of a British woman, Kiranjit Ahluwalia

 

This was the official website for the movie, Provoked, based on the true story of a British woman, Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who was jailed in 1989 for killing her violent husband by setting him on fire. The British film was inspired by Ms Ahluwalia's autobiography, in which she describes 10 years of rape and abuse at the hands of her husband.
Content is from the site's archived pages and other outside sources.

Address: Jag Mundhra.
Countries: United Kingdom and India.
Year: 2006. Duration: 113 min.
 Genre: Drama.
Actors: Aishwarya Rai (Kiranjit Ahluwalia), Miranda Richardson (Veronica Scott), Naveen Andrews (Deepak Ahluwalia), Nandita Das (Radha), Rebecca Pidgeon (Miriam), Robbie Coltrane (Edward Foster), Steve McFadden Irons (O'Connell), Raji James (Anil), Deborah Moore (Jackie). Screenplay: Carl Austin and Rahila Gupta; Based on the book "Circle of light" by Rahila Gupta and Kiranjit Ahluwalia.
 Production: Sunanda Murali Manohar. Music: AR Rahman.
 Photography: Madhu Ambat.
Assembly: Jag Mundhra and Sanjeev Mirajkar.
Production Design: Peter Joyce. Costume: Sarah Tapscott.
Released in the United Kingdom: 6 April 2007.
Premiere in Spain: 11 January 2008.

 

 


The official trailer of Provoked.

 

 
 
SYNOPSIS
"Provoked" is the true story of a battered wife who fought back, first against her husband and then against the system.
Full of optimism and affection, newlywed Kiranjit Ahluwalia (Aishwarya Rai) arrives at the doorstep of her new home and life with husband Deepak (Naveen Andrews). She would continue her law studies as her family had promised and the couple would start a family.
The future offered only pain.The drunken Deepak beats her for the first time and shows remorse. He beats her again. It gets easier. 
After 10 years of violence, a dazed Kiranjit can take no more. She resorts to a desperate act that kills Deepak. She is convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. 
Incarceration tests the outwardly meek Kiranjit’s toughness at every turn, but the mother of two has suffered worse at home.
She develops an ally in the mischievous Ronnie (Miranda Richardson), who also doled out the ultimate retribution to her abusive spouse.
While Kiranjit acclimates to life behind bars, Radha (Nandita Das), an activist with the Southall Black Sisters, glimpses a tabloid headline about her case and springs into action. A barrister (Rebecca Pidgeon) with limited resources cannot make any headway, igniting greater determination in Radha, who rallies public opinion.
Ronnie is denied parole but she has a secret weapon on the outside to help Kiranjit: Ronnie’s estranged brother-in-law Lord Foster (Robbie Coltrane), an influential legal eagle.
Kiranjit’s appeal gains momentum when Radha persuades a cop to change his knowingly false testimony that Kiranjit was in her right mind the night of the killing.
Arguing passionately before the high court, Lord Foster moves the judge to change the fate of many battered women forever.

TOMATOMETER CRITICS 29% | AUDIENCE 70%

 

Inspired by the true story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, Jag Mundhra's Provoked tells the tale of a battered wife pushed to the ultimate act of defiance. As a nineteen year old girl living in a small Punjab village with her overbearing sisters and their husbands, Kiranjit Ahluwalia (Aishwarya Rai) aspired to get a college education and see the world. Despite her ambitious plans, however, Kiranjit put her entire future on hold the moment she met handsome family friend Deepak (Naveen Andrews). Later, after a whirlwind romance, Kiranjit and Deepak married and prepared to move into Deepak's home in a quaint suburb of London. Kiranjit's storybook romance would quickly give way to a terrifying reality however when, over the course of the following decade, the loving bride suffered a relentless torrent of emotional and physical abuse of her tyrannical husband. Eventually pushed to her breaking point and desperately fearing for the safety of her children, Kiranjit killed Deepak and was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. Though Kiranjit was at first reluctant to share the details of her harrowing experience, she eventually became convinced that the only way to break the cycle of violence was to share her story with the world. Miranda Richardson, Rebecca Pidgeon, and Robbie Coltrane co-star in a docudrama that encourages viewers to take a closer look at the proliferation of domestic violence.

 



 

An aside: The film Provoked (2006) is a fictionalized account of Ahluwalia's life. Yet, Kiranjit's case helped raise awareness of domestic violence in families of non-English speaking immigrants to Western countries, as well as changing the laws for domestic abuse victims in the United Kingdom. I was in England doing a post graduate study on English law and domestic violence within the immigrant communities. Her case, known in British legal textbooks as R v Ahluwalia, changed the definition of the word "provocation" in cases of battered women. It reclassified her crime as manslaughter instead of murder. In the same year as her appeal, the reclassification lead to the freeing of Emma Humphreys and Sarah Thornton.

Jump ahead to the present. I am now working in the Washington DC area as a lawyer for defending abused women. I just recently watched Provoked on Netflix. The film's characters are over blown but that shouldn't diminish the horror of watching of spousal abuse / domestic violence and the effects it has on the victims. The law firm I work for does a lot of pro bono cases. Often I come home totally drained emotionally and feel a disconnect between my private and personal lives. Recently I adopted a rescue dog from our local animal rescue shelter. Never having a dog before I did a great deal of research for the best dog food, collar, training classes, and of course dog bed for the new member to my family. I spent hours online looking a fashionable dog bed style that would be suitable for Jitney, yet coordinate with my livingroom. Finally found the perfect site, Goodnight Dog, that sells round dog beds covered in designer fabric. I was able to choose a a lovely blue and white botanical design for the bed. I have had friends come over and think the dog bed was a large floor pillow! Jitney is a great comfort and responsibility that helps me unwind after stressful days at work. I applaud Kiranjit Ahluwalia for the strength she showed in the face of a horrific situation. Many victims suffer in silence until their abuser kills them or they commit suicide.

 

 

'I never wanted to kill my husband'

Apr 1, 2007| timesofindia.indiatimes.com
MANDVI SHARMAKiranjit Ahluwalia faced torture for 10 years before deciding she has had enough of it. She killed her husband and learnt to live again.

Kiranjit Ahluwalia faced torture for 10 years before deciding she has had enough of it. She killed her husband and learnt to live again.
The story of our lives start when we are born, but my life's story began after I got married." This is how Kiranjit Ahluwalia looks at her life. She's the woman who got a bravery award from Cherie Blair for killing her abusive and tortuous husband. She is also the inspiration behind Provoked, Aishwarya Rai's tour de force against domestic violence. Kiranjit recounts the story of her life – the 10 years of torture that she faced from her husband Deepak Ahluwalia...

The beginning: "I met Deepak in Canada, in my elder sister's home. He seemed like a charming and good-looking guy. We soon got married. Within the first week of marriage, I realised that he was a very violent man. He would hit me without any reason. I was too shocked to react. He had a split personality."

The decision: "I decided to return to India and file for a divorce but my family and my in-laws refused to support me. In the meanwhile, he kept on getting more violent. He would beat me up mercilessly and would brand me with a hot iron. Then he would tell me 'I am your husband and I can do anything to you.' I had had enough... I even tried to commit suicide twice."

The incident: "By 1986, I had two sons and was very sure that I don't want them to be influenced by their father. He wasn't taking responsibility of the family and had even started bringing women to our home. I decided to burn his legs so that he could not run behind me and torture me. I never knew he would die. I did not even once think that I would kill him."

Freedom at last: "To me, prison was freedom. I could eat, drink, sleep, laugh and do whatever I wanted to do. It was freedom from abuse and beatings. I learnt to live there. I was there for three years and four months, after which they acquitted me."

Second chance: "I had no house, no job and had to look for a school for my kids once out. But people came to my help. They gave me a house. I did not work for two years but they took care of all my expenses and my children's education. Princess Diana told me to write a book on my life, which I co-authored with Rahila Gupta. I don't need a man any more... I am not willing to suffer silently now."
 
Ash & Provoked: "I was surprised to know Ash was playing me in Provoked, I was also very shy in front of her. But she was very understanding and sweet. I am satisfied with her performance. She does look and feel like Kiranjit in Provoked."

 

'I wanted him to stop hurting me'

Julie Bindel | Wed 4 Apr 2007 | theguardian.com
After suffering years of abuse, Kiranjit Ahluwalia killed her violent husband - and ended up in jail. When she was finally freed on appeal, her case changed the face of British justice. As a film based on her story is released, Julie Bindel meets her for an interview
At first glance, Kiranjit Ahluwalia seems an unlikely subject for a film. She lives in a three-bedroom house in Slough, has brought up two sons - both at university - and works the nightshift at her local Royal Mail sorting office. So far, so average.

But Ahluwalia has led an extraordinary life, which has inspired the new British Asian film, Provoked: A True Story. The film traces her journey - from a victim of domestic violence to convicted murderer, to the woman who changed public opinion towards battered women who kill their abusers. Her case also helped change the law.
Ahluwalia arrived in Britain in 1979 from India, aged 24, following an arranged marriage. She spoke little English when she moved in with her husband Deepak's family in London, where Deepak immediately began to abuse her. "I did not want to say anything and spoil my family's excitement," she says, "and I hoped it would not continue ... He would push me about, yank my hair, hit me and drop heavy pans on my feet. I was treated like a slave. He would not allow me to drink black coffee or eat chillies, for the simple reason that I enjoyed them. But I was so frightened of him that I didn't say anything. I often lay awake at night next to him because I was too frightened to sleep." Deepak also raped her frequently, telling her that this was his right. She received no help from his family - Deepak threatened them if they ever intervened.

Over the years, Ahluwalia bore two sons, who often witnessed the violence. One night, when she had gone to sleep after cooking Deepak's dinner, he woke her up and demanded money. When she refused, he tried to break her ankles by twisting them. He then picked up a hot iron and held it to her face. Eventually Deepak fell asleep and Ahluwalia was consumed with the rage she had suppressed for 10 years. Approaching him with a can of petrol, she poured it over Deepak's feet and set them alight. "I couldn't see an end to the violence," she says now. "I decided to show him how much it hurt. At times I had tried to run away, but he would catch me and beat me even harder. I decided to burn his feet so he couldn't run after me."

Five days later, in May 1989, Deepak died, and Ahluwalia was charged with murder. She pleaded not guilty, but the defence made little of the violence she had endured. The prosecution suggested that Ahluwalia was a jealous woman who had killed her husband because he was having affairs. She was convicted of his murder in December 1989, and sentenced to life in prison.

I first met Ahluwalia in 1991 after joining the campaign to free her that was being run by the Asian feminist organisation, Southall Black Sisters (SBS). When Ahluwalia heard that I was visiting Sara Thornton (another woman who had killed her violent husband and was being held at the same prison), she asked if I could bring her two young sons to visit, as well as some red chilli peppers. Her boys were being cared for by relatives and I was able to bring them to the visiting centre - the chillies had to be smuggled in and passed under the table. "The food is terrible in here," she said at the time. "English food has no taste."

"At the time, I had no idea what was happening to me," says Ahluwalia now. "All I could think about was my children, and if I would ever see them again."
Following a campaign, led by SBS, Ahluwalia's conviction was quashed on appeal in 1992. The court accepted some new evidence - that she had not been aware she could plead guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, and that she had been suffering from severe depression when she killed her husband.
Ahluwalia admitted manslaughter at the retrial, and was released and greeted by hundreds of cheering supporters and media from around the world. The next day, her beaming face was on the front page of many newspapers, surrounded by her family, campaigners and legal team.
Ahluwalia's successful appeal against her murder conviction set a historic precedent - that women who kill as a result of severe domestic violence should not be treated as cold-blooded murderers. As Ahluwalia says, "I never intended to kill him, I just wanted him to stop hurting me."
Now 50, Ahluwalia has been transformed from a cowed woman, with little confidence, into a strong, bright, funny individual. When I call her, she insists I come to dinner. "Come tomorrow, I have already started cooking," she says. Her enjoyment of life is obvious and she says she is, once again, the happy individual she was before her marriage. "I had a happy childhood," she says, "and was not used to being treated badly until I met Deepak."

The film of her life has the Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai in the title role, but is much grittier than a typical Bollywood film. "The Bollywood crowds want singing and dancing and fantasy land," says the director, Jag Mundhra. "This is too realistic and hard-hitting to be Bollywood."
In the 18 years since she killed her husband, Ahluwalia has largely come to terms with what happened that night, but she still recoils in horror at how Deepak died. When she first saw Provoked, she sat beside Rai, who "held my hand the whole time. I just could not bear the scenes where he is burned and screaming. I could never look at those photos of his injuries during my trial."

On leaving prison, Ahluwalia settled back into her life, continuing to raise her sons, and doing both paid and voluntary work against domestic violence. She often worried what people would think if they discovered her story. "I never really wanted people at work to know what had happened, but since the film, I talk openly about prison," she says. "The men, mostly English, say to me, 'It wasn't your fault ... it was what he did to you.'"
Ahluwalia says she is often approached in the street by women keen to talk to her about their own experiences of domestic violence. "Before my case, it was far worse for Asian women suffering domestic violence," says Ahluwalia. "They used to feel shame, and family honour was seen as more important than their suffering. But now at least those women can look to me as a survivor."

Her sons, Ravi and Sanjay, now 21 and 23, and both at university, are a great source of pride. Were they supportive of the film? "Yes, but sometimes they are surprised at how well known my case is," she says. "One day it was discussed in Ravi's class [he is a law student], with the lecturer talking about the significance of the Ahluwalia case. He said to me, 'Mummy, I was in shock.'"

Since coming out of prison, Ahluwalia says she has enjoyed "every minute" of her life. "I have gained so much. I am the queen of my house," she laughs. "No one talks to me with even the slightest bit of disrespect. I make all my own decisions, there is no slavery any more."
What remains most important for her is that women are inspired by her story of survival. "I want to show the women who are suffering that they are not weak," she says. "We are hard workers, we are strong. Women can do anything, and we can do it without men".

 

 

CRITICS REVIEWS

 

May 18, 2007 | Rating: 2/4

Kamal Al-Solaylee

Globe and Mail

 Top Critic

[Director] Mundhra can't control the expansiveness of the melodrama or focus on the terseness of realism. Every character in Provoked, from victims to tyrants, Indian to English, loud to quiet, ends up as a grossly exaggerated comic creation

 

+++

 

May 17, 2007 | Rating: 1.5/4

Michael Phillips

Chicago Tribune

 Top Critic

The true-crime drama Provoked has everything to offer except a cinematic point of view and a knack for depicting human beings under duress. Those are major drawbacks.

 

 

+++

 

May 17, 2007

Ann Hornaday

Washington Post

 Top Critic

Unfortunately, Provoked possesses the tinny production values and schmaltzy music of a prime-time special, despite its ensemble of terrific actors.

+++

AUDIENCE REVIEWS

 

Dy M **** June 17, 2014

This film should reach the doors of battered and abused women out there...

+++

Heather M** March 1, 2013

This has a great cast, but it has a pretty slow and forgettable story.

+++

Josi A February 3, 2013

alguem tem esse filme eu quero assistir

+++

Terrie B ***** July 13, 2012

Aish should have won an Oscar for her acting in this one...

+++

Tania C **** December 27, 2011

This is a must see for all women! Ashwariya is absolutely amazing in it!

+++

Juan B **** December 6, 2011

wow what women had to go thru so sad cried couple of time.

+++

Nidhi J *** ½October 2, 2011

A thought provoking well made film based on a true story

+++

 Super Reviewer

Ilyaas H *½July 10, 2011

A well-picked but badly told story, director Jagmohan Mundhra caricatures practically everything on screen - taking away from the realism that could've made Provoked a great movie, and Aishwarya Rai, indifferent from her character, doesn't help the proceedings.

+++

Sri G. **** April 8, 2011

Excellent screenplay..

+++

Jennifer M *** March 9, 2011

A good movie to watch, though hard to watch at the same time. While society deals with spousal abuse (mental, physical, and sexual) all the time, sometimes we forget that if we don't do something to help, others will suffer the same fate. Aishwarya Rai plays Kiran, a young married Indian woman (in an arranged marriage which is traditional for many Indian cultures even today) who wants nothing but to please her husband and family - again, this movie deals with different cultural aspects and traditions so you must keep an open mind if you're unfamiliar with Eastern cultures. However, her husband's temper rises throughout the years of their marriage, with his blaming her for getting him upset when she confronts him about his cheating and affairs (and drinking later on). After another night of abuse, she snaps and sets her husband on fire. After he dies from his injuries, she is sent to prison for murder. However, prison begins her struggle to freedom. After meeting Ronnie (Miranda Richardson), a mother herself who had a similar married life as Kiran, Kiran learns to find her voice and stand up for all those women who have come before her. She is ultimately freed by the judicial system in a landmark case called "R v Ahluwalia", redefining provocation in cases of battered women in the UK. While there were liberties taken with this 'based on a true story' film (like many other 'true event films', the story stills holds a deep and true meaning that we must stand up for what is right.

+++

Dinesh P ½February 20, 2011

happens to be one of very few movies that I like ARB's performance..!!

+++

Niral G *** ½February 2, 2011

A good message through an above-average performance and plot.

Anirban C *** ½December 28, 2010

gooseflesh :D based on kiranjit s autobiography : in total a nice watch .

+++

**** NaWia

 Super Reviewer

NaWie M July 28, 2010

This truth had to be told like many others out there which are waiting and happening at second we write/read or hear about those. Great perfomance by Aishu.

+++

***** Zainab A July 2, 2010

Suffering in silence is not the way out." It's the true story of a Punjabi woman named Kiranjit Ahluwalia who leaves India to marry a London-based guy (Naveen Andrews), only to be badly abused. She ends up in prison for murdering her abusive husband.

I can't imagine enduring what she did but her suffering caused her to grow considerably stronger than she thought possible and luckily in her case justice prevailed. In many cases of spousal abuse this is not the case... Aishwarya is captivating! Worth watching especially if you've experienced this type of treatment or know someone who has.

 

ProvokedTheMovie.com