(Aishwarya Rai, Naveen Andrews, Miranda Richardson, et al / PG-13 / 83 mins / Eros)
Overview: 'Provoked' is a film based on the true life story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia who set fire to her husband after years of abuse. The film follows her transformation from weak victim to independent woman in prison before she was freed by a group of women’s rights activists appalled by her unjust sentence.
Verdict: As we all know, the dark; yet shockingly pertinent in certain areas of the world we live subject matter of this movie is something that unfortunately happens all too often. A woman - in this case NRI Kiran Ahluwalia - after suffering physical, mental and sexual torture for ten long years finally can take no more and strikes back: a splash of petrol on her tormentors sleeping figure, a burning candle, and her nightmare was finally over ... or was it?
'Provoked' is based on the real life story of Kiranjit Ahluwalia (Aishwarya Rai), a nineteen-year-old girl living with her domineering sisters and their husbands in a small village in Punjab, India. One day she meets an unmarried (and handsome) friend of the family Deepak Alhuwalia (Naveen Andrews) and after a whirlwind courtship, they marry and relocate to Deepak’s home in a suburb of London.
But, now cut off from her family and friends back home, Kiran suffers a 10-year campaign of abuse (both physical and mental) at the hands of the man she loves, until the balmy summer night when she decides to strike back. The fact that she actually only planned to burn the feet of her husband so that the latter is unable to run after her and thus torture her dosn't really come into play. As, once he dies of his extesive burns Kiran is unable to claim self defense (due to the nature of her crime) and so is convicted of murder. Thus, she is sent to serve a life sentence behind the walls of Mullwood Hall Prison where she is befriended by Ronnie (Miranda Richardson), another women jailed for striking back at her husband. It should also be noted that many of her cellmates tell her that she should have done it ages ago!
In truth, this 'Provoked' screenplay lacks the power it needs to touch the audience; although the subject matter strikes close and deep to/within our hearts. That said, the film is not going to break any new barriers within the industry, is not going to attract a lot of differing age groups, but it will do very well for a particular audience type. It's just no matter how well it is put together, and how well it tells the story from all sides, it will most certainly have a hard time bringing to the awareness of a larger audience.