Robbie Coltrane, the actor who played Hagrid in the Harry Potter series, has died at the age of 72 in a hospital in his native country, Scotland. Coltrane had a long and prolific career in theatre, films, and television, and besides HP, has played a number of notable parts in major franchises like James Bond and Val Helsing.
Despite his many roles, there is a special place for Coltrane in the hearts of Indian film fans, who saw him bring out his thespian side for the important 2006 film, Provoked, alongside former Miss World, Aishwarya Rai. Directed by Jag Mundhra, the film tells the real-life story of a woman called Kiranjit Ahluwalia, who had burnt her husband to death after being subject to a decade of physical and sexual abuse. The character of Kiranjit is played by Rai in the film.
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After being arrested for her crimes, Kiranjt meets a white woman called Veronica Scott (played by Miranda Richardson), who asks her brother, Edward Foster, to be Kiranjit’s lawyer and fight for her freedom. It is this character of Foster that Coltrane portrayed in the film.
With Foster’s arguments for her within the court and the Southall Black Sisters’ campaign for her freedom outside it, Kiranjit is finally let go by the courts. The real-life case, known as R vs Ahluwalia, went on to redefine what provocation would stand for in the case of women who suffer domestic abuse in the United Kingdom.
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The film premiered at the Cannes Film Market, called Marche du Film. Upon its wider release, it was praised for the performance of Rai, who managed to shake off her Bollywood stylisations and portrayed a nuanced performance bereft of all the glitz and glamour associated with her.