Directed by Norhayati Kaprawi, “Diary for Prasana” is a documentary on the legal battle between Indira Gandhi and her Muslim-convert husband, K. Pathmanathan. Indira’s daughter, Prasana was taken away by her husband when she was barely 11 months old. She has not seen her daughter for almost a decade now. In the process, Indra’s estranged husband had arbitrarily converted Indira’s two other children without their consent.
The 43-minute movie was screened at Freedom Film Festival, held both in Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh recently. It was the brainchild of Dato’ Mohd Zaid Ibrahim, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of legal affairs and judicial reform.
“I decided to do this film because it highlights the battle of an ordinary citizen whose confidence has been trivialised by an unforgiving system. For someone to stand up and make a stand for her conviction is what solidarity is about,” said Norhayati.
Indira’s legal battle has lasted over eight years. The documentary shows her countless trips to the Federal Court in Putrajaya and how she is being constantly badgered by delays and postponements. Son Karan Dinish and daughter Tevi Darsiny spoke in the documentary. They argued that they were denied the right to choose the religion of their choice.
“I’ve been following this case since it first started. It’s unfair for Indira. In fact, it’s unfair for all non-Muslims who are in a similar situation. You’ve to understand how it feels. This film is not about religion or Islam, it’s about fairness. And whether the system really understands that,” Zaid remarked.
According to Indira’s lawyer, M. Kulasegaran, Zaid’s objective was to educate the world on human rights. Zaid has insisted that the term “parent” should be plural, meaning both father and mother not just the father. He raised this issue with the Federal Court but was dismissed. He made an appeal. It was heard by five judges but till today no conclusive decision has been made.
“Films are, undeniably, a powerful instrument. The first question that popped into my mind when I was informed about it was how am I going to tell the story? I made it clear from the very beginning, the objective is to appeal to the conscience of Muslims,” Norhayati told the audience.
“Before one converts, one must know what one’s getting into. In this case, it’s clear that Indira’s husband wanted to get custody rights so it became a political issue. Muslims in this country should listen to their hearts not the ramblings by preachers and politicians,” Zaid added.
“It’s an eye opener for women like me. My mother and children are my pillars of strength. It’s not easy to open up but I hope women will start voicing their rights. All I can say is, keep fighting. Maybe not now but, as time goes by, I’m certain we’ll succeed,” Indira concluded.