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Father And Farmer, Ranjit Attends Oscars


Father And Farmer, Ranjit Attends Oscars

LOS ANGELES, CA (IANS) When Ranjit, who was till then looking after his rice fields in one corner of Jharkhand, decided to stand up against his village and fight for his daughter after she was gang-raped in 2017, he was told, “You can’t kill a tiger by yourself.”

Recounting this conversation towards the end of New Delhi-born Indian Canadian filmmaker Nisha Pahuja’s Oscar-nominated documentary feature, ‘To Kill A Tiger‘, Ranjit says with steely determination, “But I replied, ‘I’ll show you how to kill a tiger all by yourself.’ And so, I did.”

‘To Kill A Tiger’ may have lost out, as was predicted, to ’20 Days in Mariupol’, but Ranjit had the time of his life that he had never imagined. Dressed in the regulation black tuxedo and bow tie, he was there at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles for the 96th Academy Awards, soaking in the glitz and glamour of the most-anticipated event in global cinema.

He may never be able to get over the trauma of his daughter’s rape, but for Ranjit, it was the final vindication of his lonely battle against the odds piled up by an insensitive system. His daughter, who’s now 20 years old, also has moved far away from her past as she nurtures the dream of becoming a policewoman fighting to protect women like her.

For Pahuja, whose previous documentary, ‘The World Before Her’, was nominated for an Emmy, it took eight years of hard work to put together ‘To Kill A Tiger’.

The documentary, which the Indian government has reportedly not looked at too favorably, has won her 19 awards (not the Oscar, sadly), besides being picked up by Netflix and getting the support of the leading lights of the global Indian diaspora — Dev Patel, Mindy Kailing, poet Rupi Kaur, Dr Atul Gawande and Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

Pahuja and Ranjit can, for now, let their hair down and party after the curtains come down on the Oscars. But they both know too well that their story is getting repeated every hour across the country. The tiger is still at large — and difficult to kill.

In the words of TV actor Sahil Salathia, who attended an exclusive screening prior to the Oscars, at the Netflix headquarters here, and Instagrammed about it: “Ranjit ji is an Indian farmer who supported his daughter (right till the end!) who was traumatized by life and society. We need more role models like him in India.”

Highlighting what Ranjit, who is all set to attend the Oscars gala at LA’s Dolby Theater, was up against, Sahil wrote: “It is not easy knowing that three men in Jharkhand gang raped your 13-year-old daughter and the village thinks why not just get her married to one of the rapists, why take it to the court and involve the legal system … gaon ka naam kharab hoga … thu-thu hogi … waise bhi ladki bahar kyub thi?! … ladke jawaan hain … naadaani ho gayi … samaaj mein rehna hai ya nahi?!”

Writing about Pahuja, Sahil noted: “You are exactly the filmmaker the world needs! The impact of your documentary is intensely high. I am anyway a very sensitive man and I take immense pride in that. I was crying like a 13-year-old … picking 13 as a reference because the victim was 13 too when this horrific incident happened.”

Commenting on the documentary, Sahil said: “[It] will break your heart and make you cry and feel so much anger in parts because some of us still blame the rape victim and are not ready to stand up for her or her loved ones who have been victimized.”

Sahil concluded his post with a reality check: “At the end of the documentary, statistics came in and my blood was boiling. Do you know … in India, a girl is raped every 20 minutes (most of the cases are not even registered!) Let that sink in!”

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  • Very tragic. I wish I could help somehow?

    March 26, 2024

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