India's NDTV Goes Off Air to Protest Rape Doc Ban

India Gang Rape Protests - H 2015
Associated Press

The network went dark for the hour it was originally scheduled to air British filmmaker Leslee Udwin's controversial film 'India's Daughter.'

Indian news network NDTV (New Delhi Television) took itself off the air Sunday from 9-10 p.m. local time in protest against the Indian government's ban of India's Daughter, British filmmaker Leslee Udwin's documentary about the 2012 gang rape of a young woman on a Delhi bus. 

Co-produced by well-known Indian journalist Dibang, the film includes an interview with one of the four imprisoned attackers — Mukesh Singh — who said women were more responsible for rapes than men, causing local and international outrage.

The doc was scheduled to air on NDTV as part of a global simulcast on March 8, International Women's Day, but was pulled after police secured a court injunction blocking the film's airing in India with the order also preventing publication of the Singh interview by local media.

During the self-imposed hourlong blackout, NDTV simply displayed the film's title card. A ticker at the bottom of the screen featured comments from the public speaking out against the ban.

Explaining why the network didn't air any alternative programming, NDTV editorial director Sonia Singh said in a tweet: “We won't shout, but we will be heard.”

The rare stance of silent protest quickly created a buzz on Indian social media, with Bollywood celebs also lending their support.

When asked by The Hollywood Reporter following the ban if the network planned to pursue the matter legally, NDTV said in a statement: "NDTV is shocked at the ban and censorship. There will be no further comments."

Meanwhile, in another case of defiance, the Times of India reported Monday that a free, open-air screening of India's Daughter was held near Agra (about 130 miles from Delhi) on Sunday evening for an audience of about 70 people.

Ketan Dixit — an activist involved with the NGO Stop Acid Attacks — set up a projector and a makeshift screen with bed sheets and screened the film as a “mark of protest against the ban.” He said that he was ready to “face any action that was initiated against him.”

India's Daughter's U.S. premiere will take place Monday in New York, presented by Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto.