(2006) Provoked, a winner for Ash

She hasn’t been having a particularly great time of late either at the box office or with the carping critics. But Bollywood diva Aishwarya Rai has an absolute winner on her hands in the form of Jagmohan Mundhra’s Provoked.

Screened several times in the Cannes Film Market this year, Provoked, the real life story of a battered Indian woman who went on to become a role model for all victims of domestic violence in Britain, has garnered positive reviews both for its controlled making and Aishwarya’s finely etched performance.

“Skeptics repeatedly asked me why I had opted for Aishwarya for the role of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, but I was always convinced that she is a talented, sensitive and instinctive actress and Provoked is clear proof of that,” the US-based Mundhra said.

One couldn’t agree more with Mundhra. For the most part, Provoked presents a completely de-glamourised Aishwarya, first in gaudy but nondescript Indian outfits and then in drab prison overalls. To her credit, she sinks her teeth deep into the role and ensures that her presence does not divert attention away from the essential intent of the film.

Bollywood diva Aishwarya Rai has wowed the audience with her performance in Provoked.
“Aishwarya,” said Mundhra, “has very expressive eyes. They have rarely been exploited. It all boils down to what a director wants to extract from her.”

Besides the way she uses her eyes to convey a gamut of emotions – trust, loyalty, fear, confusion and, finally, resolve – what is really impressive about Aishwarya’s star turn in Provoked is the manner in which she not only holds her own against Miranda Richardson, who plays a cellmate with whom Kiran develops a deep emotional bonding, but also manages to provide a perfect foil to a wonderfully nuanced performance from an actress of uncommon substance.

Thanks to the strong impression that Provoked has made in Cannes, Mundhra has already succeeded in closing deals for distribution of the film in several international territories.

He expects the India release of Provoked to happen some time in September this year. “I want the film to open simultaneously in India, Britain, Pakistan and the Gulf,” said Mundhra.

While the metropolitan areas of India will get to see the original English-language version of Provoked, a move is afoot to release dubbed Hindi versions of the film in smaller towns.

That would be in order: On the face of it, Provoked has undoubted commercial potential. The script is taut, acting is uniformly good and emotional quotient is consistently high. In short, Provoked has the perfect recipe for box office success in India.

- IANS

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