Set in London in the late 80s, Provoked is inspired by the true story of Punjabi housewife and mother of two, Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who was freed by the British judicial system in a landmark case that redefined the word 'Provocation' in the case of battered women. Director Jagmohan Mundhra casts Bollywood beauty Aishwarya Rai in her most unglamorous role to date and manages to pull off a first - a film in which you actually forget the former Miss World's good looks and empathize with her portrayal of a victim turned victor.
Unable to bear years of brutality at the hands of her alcoholic husband Deepak (Naveen Andrews), Kiranjit (Rai) takes revenge by setting him on fire. Charged with first-degree murder, she is sentenced to life imprisonment, where she befriends wealthy cellmate, Veronica Scott (Miranda Richardson). As luck would have it, Veroncia happens to be stepsister of Lord Edward Foster (Robbie Coltrane), a highly respected queen's counsel, whom she convinces to file Kiranjit's appeal. Cue a bevy of gutsy Asian social workers and organised rallies, and before you know it Regina v Alhuwalia is brought to the media's attention.
Provoked may feel like a made for television movie, but this has more to do with its recognizable supporting cast, many of whom are associated with popular TV dramas. Watch out for a cameo by soap star Steve 'Phil Mitchell' McFadden as a bent copper keen to convict Kiranjit. While Mundhra has taken some artistic license in adapting Kiranjit's autobiography, A Circle of Light, to the big screen, his overall intentions are good. Provoked avoids sentimentality and illustrates how one woman's bravery helped fuel a nationwide crusade and irrevocably altered British laws on domestic violence.
Provoked is released in UK cinemas on Friday 6th April 2007.