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Anatomy of Violence

Directed by Deepa Mehta
Canada / India, 2016 (fiction, 93 minutes, colour, English / Hindi)
Anatomy of Violence
Image: © Hamilton-Mehta Productions

Film Description:
"In December 2012, a 23-year-old woman and her friend got on a private bus in Delhi. The men already on board—five passengers and the bus driver—gang-raped the woman, beat her friend, and threw them onto the street. The woman died of her injuries two weeks later. The case made worldwide news and was instrumental in activating Indian policy discussions about women's rights and the government's duty to prosecute for rape. Deepa Mehta's Anatomy of Violence takes a fearless approach to the topic. In collaboration with theatre artist Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry, Mehta worked improvisationally with her actors to envisage possible sociological and psychological backgrounds and pasts for the perpetrators and the victim. The film posits formative events in the men's lives, imagining the origins of their violent, remorseless personalities, while presenting the woman's life in parallel. [...]"
-- Toronto International Film Festival (source)

Film Credits (partial):
Produced by: David Hamilton, Neelam Mansingh Chowdhury, Celine Rattray, Trudie Styler
Principal Cast: Vansh Bhardwaj, Tia Bhatia, Janki Bisht, Seema Biswas, Suman Jha, Jagjeet Sandhu
Cinematography: Maithili Venkataraman
Film Editing: Darby MacInnis
Production Company: Hamilton Mehta Productions

Notes about Anatomy of Violence


Quotes by the Director

"[For Anatomy of Violence], I reached out to theatre director Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry and arrived in Chandigarh a year ago for a script workshop. The actors in Chandigarh, recommended by Neelam from her group, were asked to create scenes imagining the rapists' backgrounds from five perspectives: from childhood; from the most traumatic moment in their lives; from the relationship with their families; from their jobs; from their friendships. All of these scenes were to get us right up to the attack—to the moment when the young woman gets into the bus. I never planned to show the attack."
-- Deepa Mehta (source)

"It became very apparent [during an improvisational workshop for Anatomy of Violence] that I didn't want to come back and cast kids. There was no way I could do it. It just would have been a travesty, and it would have been unnecessary. Seeing the adults playing kids, it was as if they were looking at their own lives, and that was so powerful. When something smells of honesty—I'm talking about what was happening in front of me—why would I want to come back and recreate something?"
-- Deepa Mehta (source)

Quotes about Anatomy of Violence

"'No one becomes who they are in isolation' is the mantra as [Deepa] Mehta assembles six young actors to recreate the lives of the rapists as a way to understand what motivated them to perpetrate such a vile crime. Violence, child sexual abuse, poverty and social marginalization all play a role in turning six young men leading ordinary lives into a cadre of drunken louts. Despite a paucity of information, the actors [in Anatomy of Violence] do a decent job of sketching out characters remarkable only for their act of brutality."
-- Bruce DeMara (source)

"With no artificial lighting and no music, the microbudgeted film [Anatomy of Violence] is a radical departure from [Deepa] Mehta's previous body of work and its studied, resplendent aesthetic. It is strange, impressionistic, artless and frequently tough to watch. And it may haunt you for weeks."
-- Simon Houpt (source)

"Broken down into four chapters that detail the past ('Lives Lived'), the day of the rape ('Towards Zero'), the immediate consequences ('Division of Spoils'), and the coda ('Aftermath'), Anatomy of Violence gets better as it goes along, but it starts at a low place. Harnessing their performances from an improvisatory workshop, [Deepa] Mehta's actors, who share screenplay credit, also play themselves as children, which is the first and biggest of the film's mistakes."
-- Scott Tobias (source)

"The fusion of non-fiction and fiction [in Anatomy of Violence] is difficult and will create debate, which seems to be [Deepa] Mehta's intention. It forces us to look at our lack of engagement with the discrepancies, economic divide and injustice that surround us. It surely raises the question: How responsible are we for the kind of human beings we have become?"
-- Madhu Trehan (source)

Bibliography for Anatomy of Violence

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