'The parents have seen the documentary. They have liked the documentary. They called me to say, "Aap log himmat mat hariye (You don't lose heart)".'
'After that I don't care what people think. I got goose bumps when they said, "Aap log piche mat hathiye (You people don't back off)".'
Dibang, co-producer, India's Daughter, the controversial documentary on the Delhi gang-rape case, speaks to Sheela Bhatt/Rediff.com in an exclusive interview.
In the Rajya Sabha, both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party were speaking against the film.
Yes, they were saying that such interviews should never happen. They were demanding action.
But interviews of convicts have happened before. In 1981, Justice Y V Chandrachud passed an order to clarify rule No 549 A of the jail manual. The late Prabha Dutt, The Times Of India, India Today in the past have been allowed to interview prisoners.
The rapist-murderers Billa and Ranga were interviewed in jail in the early 1980s. It was a high profile case in which the children of a naval officer were kidnapped, the girl raped and killed.
You claim that you have not violated any rules of the jail manual, right?
You have been to a jail. You know you cannot take even a pencil inside. Tihar Jail is a high-security prison. These kinds of rapists are isolated in the jail. They are high-security prisoners.
How can I get my camera, mike, tripod, lights etc in? I got into the jail because I had all the permissions required for it. We asked for the permission and they gave it to us.
How come the United Progressive Alliance government gave such permission?
I don't think it has anything to do with the UPA. We got permission from the jail. We got the permission from the home ministry. There was no political pull or push to get permission.
I don't want to make things personal. I know your professional credibility. But let me ask you. If the victim was your relative, would you have shown the rapist's interview?
I am happy you asked this question. This is one question that is disturbing me. Again, it is because people have not seen the documentary. It comes from that.
Sheela, I am asking you. You must be very concerned about the case. You must be feeling pain from your heart for her (the victim). Can you feel the pain more than her mother?
I am asking you this question. Can anyone, who is talking about the film, feel more pain than her parents?
I think, no. The parents have seen the documentary. They have liked the documentary. On Wednesday (February 4) they called me to say, "Aap log himmat mat hariye (You don't lose heart)."
After that I don't care what people think. I got goose bumps when they said, "Aap log piche mat hathiye (You people don't back off)." I get so anguished when people ask me a question, like you asked.
Some say because she was not related to him so he made the film. No! For God's sake!
The mother whose daughter was raped and killed brutally has seen the film. She has heard what Mukesh has to say. She has discussed what Mukesh has to say. She talks about it.
If she has no problem I don't know why people have an issue.
Why is Mukesh thinking like this? He says the girl should not have protested!
He thinks whatever he did or thinks is not wrong. I needed questions to carry on for six hours. I am not a talker. That too to talk to someone you don't know, and someone whom you can't like.
He is a rapist. You don't like him. So I asked do you know what happens when someone is hanged. He knew. He must have been told by somebody in jail.
Then he says if you hang us, then next time if somebody rapes, they are going to kill the victim. He said, "DEATH" in English and he knows only a couple of words in that language.
People who know the narrative and arguments that are being used when you talk about capital punishment and rape, can you see this?
Mukesh says if you kill us they (other rapists) will kill others. They will remove all evidence of rape.
I was surprised that he was using the argument in a different context. He was saying, "Ye jo goonde log hote hai vo aisa karenge! Usko (rape victim) maar denge!" He doesn't think he is a badmash or a goonda!
So what does he think he is? I am giving you an exact quote. He says, "Ye to humne kuch bhi nahi kiya. Yeh to mediawalone kar diya sub. Hum se bhi jyada bahut logone kuch, kuch kiya hua he (We have not done anything. This is all a media creation. There are people who have done much worse)."
You interviewed Mukesh Singh for six hours. Have you been able to understand what drive a man to rape?
One thing you have to understand is that there are no fixed answers. This is what happened and for this reason. That would be too much of stereotyping. I don't think this thing is so simple. It is a very complex issue. There are many layers. I think a lot of sensitivity is involved.
Have you understood the relationship between Mukesh and his parents? Did the problem lie there?
All these people had problems with their parents. Ram Singh, Mukesh's elder brother, committed suicide.
We went to the parents of the juvenile convict in the case. I am giving you the exact quote, they said, "Hamne to samje ki yeh (their son) to maar gaya hai. Fir police aye usne humee bataya. Yeh ladka tumhara hai? Yeh to jinda hai! Ab bada hai gava. Jab vo chota ladka tha to gaya tha shaher ko. Goondo ne fasa diya usko! (We thought our son was dead. Then the police came and said this is your son. He has grown up now. He left for the city when he was young. Some anti-social elements must have trapped him into this)."
We know from the description of the case and from other facts of the case that he was the most brutal.
Why are all kinds of people opposing the film?
I don't understand that. I think it may have to do with the fact that when the Delhi rape case happened, the issue was snatched away from political leaders. It caught the imagination of the social media. They put pressure.
All the political parties were left behind. A large number of people took part in protests against it. So anything to do with the case raises caution in politicians.
I am surprised that even Left liberals are speaking against the telecast. They should say it after seeing it. How can you be called liberal then? Being a liberal is also a responsibility.
Liberal also means before criticising a book or a film you have to read the book or see the film. If you don't see the film before criticising it I don't think then you are a liberal.
Image: Protests against the Delhi rape case in London. Photograph: Andrew Winning/Reuters