WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
Acts of violence. The utilization of terror to harm an innocent. The sense that humanity is turning on itself, individuals lashing out in moments of unthinkable, fear-inducing exploits against those whom they feel have “wronged” them–when they themselves are the perpetrators. What is left in the aftermath is brokenness, loss of will and desire to live, love, aspire, or move forward–an utter deprivation of hope. How would you face that? For four incredible people–Mohini Gaurav Kumar, Chandrahass Mishra, Sonali Mukherjee, and Archana Thakur–this question was forcibly placed upon them through the commonality they all share–being victims of ruthless, unmerciful acid attacks. What’s more, it all happened when they simply stood up to those oppressing them.
For Kumar, Mukherjee, and Thakur, it was the taunts, lewd comments, and constant overall harassment from local boys, men, and/or hooligans that prompted each to take a stand, make complaint against their antagonists, and try to return to a semblance of normalcy and freedom. Instead, their actions were repaid via remorseless retaliation by having their faces doused by highly concentrated acid, the kind used to burn through metals, resulting in an unimaginable storm of searing, burning pain leading to massive amounts of disfigurement, often beyond just their visages. For Mishra, it was trying to contend with local men giving him problems outside his godown. He reported it to his godown owner’s father, whose son was one of the instigators. The result, acid to his face.
In the wake of such atrocity, one would gather all notions of having their lives be able to carry forward would cease. Yet, it is the inspirational opposite that occurs.
Next, my Mind:
Delivering a powerful social statement and demonstrating a willingness to take a no holds barred approach with the volatile subject matter at hand, writer/director/producer Ashish Kumar’s 47-minute documentary film delves deep into the shocking truths and sobering realities of acid attacks in India through the eyes of four souls who have not only faced the remorseless acts, but have then battled through the depression, emotional and physical pain, the inaction of the society around them, and other humiliations to come out the other side with hope, a future, and a relentless determination to see an end to these vicious assaults. Potent visuals, both via real life interviews with the four survivors along with brief animated segments to tell the backstory of each attack, keep the viewer constantly reminded of the horrific surface scars borne by each person, yet it truly becomes a heartwarming ode to lives so drastically impacted discovering new love and value in life, with a furthered goal to help raise awareness and aid others affected by similar circumstances.
What further makes an indelible impression is listening in detail as Kumar, Mishra, Mukherjee, and Thakur share about not just the similar attacks they’ve experienced and their fights to accept themselves as they now were/are, but also the harsh repercussions encountered by their families–total social isolation, loss of life momentum, homes, jobs, and friends, staggering medical costs for surgeries (one having had 35 of them totaling 15-20 lakh to still not look normal!), no real attention given to their plights by authorities (some of whom are even bribed by the attackers to tamper with evidence or level false accusations back at the victim), and dealing with a government that states they will so something on paper, but never actually fulfills it. The need for financial support, initiatives to make the acid being utilized far harder to come by, and other related needs are forefront, but actual action still remains hard to see materialize. But, hearing the testimonies of Mohini’s husband Gaurav, Chandrahass’s wife Tipti, Archana’s husband Rohit, and Sonali’s husband Chitranjan and how they defied every social norm and even their own families to marry the ones they fell in love with shines such a necessary light on the fact that true, abiding love still exists. Period.
In total, with its much needed message, blunt addressing of the topic, genuinely heartfelt, impactful interviews, and prominently inferred call to awareness and subsequent action to see these acid attacks eradicated from the country, “Beauty of Life” stands as a rallying cry stretching beyond India’s borders to all of us, that we might finally start realizing the demand for real justice against abhorrent attacks like these and others around the world, and that we would rediscover that which seems to have been so squandered and forfeited–the beauty of humanity.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!