British filmmaker Leslee Udwin, embroiled in controversy over her documentary about the fatal 2012 New Delhi gang rape that was banned by the Indian government last week, has vehemently denied reports that she paid one of the convicted rapists for his interview.
“I can tell you hand on heart that we have not paid 1 rupee to anyone we interviewed,” she told Indian newspaper the Hindu, shrugging off the allegations as a “smear campaign.”
Indian media outlets had earlier reported that Udwin paid Mukesh Singh — one of six men convicted of the rape and murder of a 23-year-old student a little over two years ago — the equivalent of $600 for his controversial interview. An investigation by Hindi-language Navbharat Times newspaper alleged that Singh had initially asked for more than $3,000.
Udwin also denied that the filming of the interview with Singh, in which he blames his victim for the rape and says her life may have been spared if she had not fought back, was done without his knowledge.
“As a world-renowned producer who has won a [BAFTA Award], I would never do a thing like that,” Udwin said.
The Indian government banned the film, titled India’s Daughter, over concerns that Singh’s comments would cause “apprehension of public disorder.”
NDTV, the channel scheduled to air the documentary before the government’s television ban resulted in the film going viral on YouTube, protested by broadcasting a blank screen between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunday.
The intended message of the film, Udwin said, was to tell the world to follow India’s example of protesting against rape and forcing the government to amend the status quo. According to the award-winning director, global statistics on rape that were a part of the Indian and international TV broadcasts did not make it to the BBC version that spread over the Internet.
“The government is inviting the world to point fingers at India, and call it undemocratic and unconstitutional,” she said. “Why are they intent on committing international suicide?”