Review - Provoked: Touched yet unconvinced
Kiranjit Ahluwalia - the lady who fought with destiny and resigned to it at the same time. One of those stories that get lost in the plethora of injustices in the world. A story that desperately needs to be told. Alas, it loses out in execution - despite Aishwarya’s sensitive portrayal of the lady who was wronged. As usual she looks stunning (without makeup at that!).
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Provoked certainly brings attention to the plight of women at the hands of psychotic male chauvinists. So, what do you do when you want to get the average movie-goer to watch the sad story of a lady who is physically, emotionally and sexually abused by her husband? Get Aishwarya Rai (Kiranjit Ahluwalia) to be the lady! And she delivers with a performance that is, without any doubt, her best so far.
Naah, by no means is it a flawless performance. Every once in a while Aishwarya does inadvertently slip into ‘oh, I am sorry, I am this gorgeous supermodel made to look like a battered housewife’ mode. But the positives easily outweigh the negatives this time around. And that is one woman who needs no make-up to look stunning! Performance-wise the transformation from an unsure, easily-dominated wife to a confident, inspirational woman was wonderful. Especially note the slouch turn into a confident straight back. The nuances of the complex character were captured well – frustration, anger, hatred, guilt, glimpses of happiness.
What did not work for the movie though, are the gaps in the story. Though the memory-triggered flashbacks were a nice way to narrate the story, they ultimately failed to make an impact. They tried to do with dialogues what needed to be done through story and visuals. Also the shortcomings had a lot to do with the pace, the time allotted to each part of the story. While the first half took its own sweet time in establishing the background, the second half was left to cover a lot of ground (including the abrupt digressions for the side characters’ stories).
The biggest hole of them all was the torture itself that Kiranjit was subjected to. All through the movie you are expecting something gruesome to happen that will shake you from the inside. But it doesn’t happen. And that is you leave the theater moved yet unconvinced - uncertain of what made a plain village girl take such a drastic step. Maybe they did not want to shoo away the audience with the gory details.
But then, if the idea was to keep the audience interested, it desperately needed better dialogues. Especially, the lines given to the beautiful Nandita Das were lousy. Again, the inevitable tussle between dramatize-for-effect and stick-to-reality. Tricky one, indeed.
The only thing other than Aishwarya’s moving performance that makes it worth a watch is the subject itself. This subject needs attention and is certainly more than one woman’s story. But will it make anyone stand up for the cause?
- meeta, a part of the audience
Provoked - Movie Details
- Official Sites: Website Facebook Wikipedia IMDB
- Producer: Sunanda Murali Manohar
- Director: Jag Mundhra
- Lead Cast: Aishwarya Rai
- Supporting Cast: Naveen Andrews, Nandita Das, Miranda Richardson
- Story: Based on book by Rahila Gupta & Kiranjit Ahluwalia
- Screenplay: Rahila Gupta, Carl Austin
- Dialogues: Carl Austin, Rahila Gupta
- Cinematography: Madhu Ambat
- Editor: Sanjeev Mirajkar, Jag Mundhra, Rajesh Rajilal
- Background Score: A R Rahman
- Music Director: A R Rahman
- Costume Designer: Sarah Tapscott
- Art Direction: Emily straight
- Facebook Page: Link
- Running time: 110 minutes
- Reviewer: meeta
- Language: Hindi
- Country: India
- Genres: Biography, Social