When presented with the question of right or wrong, what is it that proves to be the deciding factor for us? And how does this consideration change when it comes to the people we know, or even love? Are we ever capable of being objective? These are some of the questions explored in “Gargi.” She is a woman who is on a mission to prove the innocence of her father in a case. He is declared as one of the culprits after being identified by the victim, and the case against him seems watertight. But Gargi believes in his innocence, and not just because he is her father. She also knows him as the person who protected her against a similar danger when she was a child, and in her eyes, a protector could not be the perpetrator. Gargi’s reason for believing in Brahmanandam was love. And if that left any room for doubt, her previous experiences filled that up. Which is the reason she never asked her father, until the very end, what he was doing between 6 and 6.30 PM. And this is the exact reason she did not like her lawyer, Indraans, asking her father the same questions. Because of the respect she had for him due to her own past, she considered it offensive to bring them up. Her faith in his innocence was not objective or even based on solid evidence. It was colored by her own emotions and experiences.
When it came to the people who believed that he was guilty, their reasons for doing so were no different. Our legal system follows the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” But that was not the case with the characters in the film. Everyone had their own motivations. The news channel that declared him as the culprit before the investigation was completed, did so for higher TRPs. The investigating officer was careless with his investigation as he got too invested in the case, to the point of losing his objective judgment. This is also the reason he missed the birth of his child. And the father of the victim just wanted justice for his child and to be able to lessen her pain as much as he could. Finally, the judgment of the general public, which upended Gargi’s entire life. They had no personal connection to the victim, yet there was an unprecedented anger towards Brahmanandam, and they were quick to condemn him even before the court’s judgment was passed. What was the cause of such a reaction?
Knowing what we do, we can tell that it is festering anger that has been in people for a long time now. Be it the pathetic state of women’s rights, the state of the country, or just the general environment of injustice, people know it all and are angry. Therefore, when they saw a chance for the deliverance of justice, they grabbed at it with all the latent anger of the years. Not a single person was being objective.
Let’s take another look at the case. The reason Brahmanandam was investigated was because he could not explain his whereabouts between 6 and 6.30 PM. And the victim recognized him during the identification parade. The victim’s testimony was temporarily dismissed because her statement had been given under the influence of a powerful drug and her father’s guidance. But at the very end, it was the unexplained time gap that was instrumental in discovering what had truly transpired. Therefore, what was the point of the case, to begin with? Maybe he should have gone straight to jail, as everyone wanted. However, justice is a little more complicated than that, and the ends do not justify the means.
It is imperative that guilt be established beyond a reasonable doubt because anything less than that is an insult not just to the victim, but a heartbreaking negligence of the severity of the crime. It is something to ponder over that, in an ideal world, justice would mean returning things to their original state, as if the wrong had never been committed. But in an ideal world, there would be no need for justice because nobody would ever commit a crime. This means that what exists in the real world is a careful mixture of retribution and reversal of the situation. That is exactly why there should be absolutely no room for doubt, which cannot happen if the judgment is not objective.
The judge in the said case was not just the person to decide the guilt or innocence of the accused, but also the only person who walked the fine line between emotion and logic, to do what was best for the victim. She was probably the only one who was capable of seeing the bigger picture and how each facet of it was intertwined with the other. “Gargi” teaches us that while our judgments cannot exist in a vacuum, it is imperative to not let them be colored by our emotions. Because justice is based on what happens, not what we believe should or could happen.