Bhushan details what she calls misrepresentation and dishonesty perpetuated by Udwin not only on Bhushan and other Indians, but also on Indian ministries and politicians.

Indias Daughter dragged to court Indian film-maker alleges fraud by Leslee Udwin
news Media and Politics Tuesday, October 27, 2015 - 21:07

Indian film-maker Anjali Bhushan has filed a criminal complaint against Leslee Udwin, the producer of the controversial documentary “India’s Daughter”, at the Tis Hazari court in Delhi alleging cheating, criminal breach of trust and fraud.

In the criminal complaint filed with the magistrate, in which Bhushan says she was to be a co-producer and co-director of the film, Bhushan details what she calls misrepresentation and dishonesty perpetuated by Udwin not only on Bhushan and other Indians, but also on Indian ministries and politicians.

“The accused person in a very calculated and circumspect manner has committed the acts of “cheating, criminal breach of trust, misappropriation, dishonest execution of agreement and dishonest concealment of property not only against the (undersigned) complainant, but also against the Union of India and is liable to be punished under sections 403, 406, 418, 421, 423 and 424 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860,” the complaint says.  

The complaint was first filed at the Hari Nagar police station in New Delhi, but the police has taken no action against the accused, according to the petition.  It calls for a full investigation into the matter in order to bring Udwin to face justice in India.

“More than what Leslee has done to the work of all of us who trusted her, she has also cheated India and I want to see this corrected,” Bhushan told TNM. “This is no longer about me or the documentary I was meant to co-produce and co-direct – this is about intellectual honesty and respect for a country and its institutions,” she added.

In the 70-page complaint and annexures, which is available with The News Minute (TNM), Bhushan quotes chapter and verse to say how Udwin met her in 2011 on behalf of her  NGO called “People’s Cinema” which she claimed to be setting up and which would become a mobile cinema in India traveling the length and breadth of the country.

In her complaint Bhushan says that while the initial discussions between her and Udwin were centered around exploring the mindset of a rapist and socio-economic and psychological issues, Udwin insisted she was only interested in the Nirbhaya gang-rape case (December 16th 2012).

On June 12th 2013, an agreement for co-production of the documentary was entered into between Bhushan’s company Apricot Sky Entertainment Pvt. Limited and Udwin’s company Assassin Films Pvt. Ltd wherein the terms and conditions were heavily loaded against Bhushan, according to the complaint.  A second producer-director agreement was also entered into between Bhushan in her individual capacity and Udwin’s company on June 15th2013.  Bhushan says her apprehensions about the lopsided contract were dismissed by Udwin who said “such lopsided terms are necessary for her to raise funds for the documentary and to ensure distribution to International Channels.”

The complaint further states that Udwin informed the Indian team which included research consultant Amit Khullar that she had approached the BBC (UK), CBC (Canada), Swiss Radio and grant-making organisations such as World Vision and Tribeca and that no one was willing to sponsor a documentary unless it had an interview with at least one of the alleged rapists of the Nirbhaya case. Udwin assured Bhushan that she and Khullar would be well remunerated when funds became available. This did not happen, but Udwin “…had already received funds from the BBC amounting to £90,000 and more grants were in the pipeline,” the complaint says.

According to the complaint, it was Khullar who put his goodwill to work for the documentary including securing permission to visit the Tihar Jail. “It is pertinent to mention herein that the accused person did not just cheat the complainant but also the Tihar-Jail Authorities, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Govt. of India by breaching the conditions of the permission given by the MHA vide letter dated 22/07/2013 and the Prison Authorities  vide letter dates 19/08/2013 to interview inmates who were convicted in the infamous 16th December (Nirbhaya) rape case for “research purpose” and not for commercial use of the same,” the complaint says.

The complaint further adds that Udwin was “well aware of the fact that telecasting of the documentary was in breach of the terms and undertakings of the grant of permission to interview the said inmates of Tihar Jail and that the same shall have penal consequences.” This says Bhushan was the reason Udwin fled India while exposing her (Bhushan) to disciplinary action as her name was also stated in all the documents. “The accused person exposed the complainant to penal actions and/or black listing from the Film-maker’s associations while the accused, being a foreigner, thought that she may escape the rigours of any legal action by Authorities.”

The UK-based World View which had partly funded the project and the Holland-based IDFA which supported “India’s Daughter” had listed Bhushan as the original co-producer and co-director of the documentary. “However, after it was released, her name was missing from not only the credit rolls of the film but also from the of World View, IDFA and the Denmark-based DR Sales which holds the rights to distribute the said documentary “India’s Daughter.”

In the run-up to the documentary which was banned in India but viewed worldwide, Udwin promoted herself as the sole producer and director of “India’s Daughters,” in full breach of her contractual agreement with Bhushan.

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