Documentary channel

In ‘The Right to Live’, Dhananjoy Chatterjee’s hanging triggers a debate on capital punishment

MS Sathyu’s film questions the state’s right to take a person’s life.

On August 14, 2004, Dhananjoy Chatterjee, a security guard in Kolkata, was hanged for the rape and murder of 18-year-old Hetal Parikh. The hanging took place on Chatterjee’s birthday, and was controversial for a number of reasons. Chatterjee was hanged after serving 14 years in jail. The campaign in favour of his execution was waged by Mira, the wife of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the chief minister of West Bengal at the time. Legal activists pointed out that Chatterjee had been framed on the basis of an unsatisfactory investigation. According to his hangman, Chatterjee pleaded his innocence until the end.

Before Arindam Sil’s dramatisation of the events in his August 11 release Dhananjoy, filmmaker MS Sathyu had examined the case in the documentary The Right to Live. The 50-minute Public Service Broadcasting Trust documentary questions the rationale behind capital punishment.

Sathyu inserts file footage of his team’s interviews with Chatterjee and his family and juxtaposes their testimonies against the opinions of eminent lawyers on capital punishment. A large portion of the film is dedicated to the debate on whether capital punishment should be abolished in India.

Sathyu was initially denied access to Chatterjee by the West Bengal government for six months. It was only after he approached the Supreme Court that he was finally given permission on the condition that the documentary could not be broadcast before the President addressed Chatterjee’s mercy petition. Sathyu agreed to the condition.

In the film, Sathyu reads out the death sentence as his camera pans across the prison where Chatterjee was housed. His interview with Chatterjee is a trial in itself, but it is Chatterjee’s defence that leaves an impression. “If I’ve committed the crime, hang me. I’ve requested the President to examine me on the lie detector,” Chatterjee says.

Sathyu stages the scenes leading up to the murder to provide a background to the case. The interviews are shot in the traditional television format: a close-up followed by a slow zoom out as the subject begins to speak. Sometimes, it is the exact opposite: a wide shot for a few seconds followed by a gradual zoom-in.

The bits that are the toughest to sit through are the ones featuring Chatterjee’s father, who, having sold many portions of land to pay for lawyers’ fees, is a broken man. “The father felt it was all a police conspiracy to frame the family,” Sathyu explained in an interview to Open magazine. “They relented only after they saw a full-page picture of Dhananjoy looking out from behind bars in a Bengali tabloid and understood that we were only trying to help. They then agreed to an on-camera interview.”

Moving away from Chatterjee’s case, Sathyu widens the scope of the film towards a comprehensive discussion on capital punishment. In his interviews featuring such well-known lawyers and judges as Rajinder Sachar, YM Yusuf, VN Khare and Nitya Ramakrishnan, Sathyu turns over every aspect of capital punishment. There is an explanatory character to the conversations as the speakers address a wide range of topics: the argument of the rarest of rare crimes that guides the administration of capital punishment, the state’s right to take a person’s life, and the idea of good deterrents to harsh crimes.

The Right To Live.
We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Not just for experts: How videography is poised for a disruption

Digital solutions are making sure it’s easier than ever to express your creativity in moving images.

Where was the last time you saw art? Chances are on a screen, either on your phone or your computer. Stunning photography and intricate doodles are a frequent occurrence in the social feeds of many. That’s the defining feature of art in the 21st century - it fits in your pocket, pretty much everyone’s pocket. It is no more dictated by just a few elite players - renowned artists, museum curators, art critics, art fair promoters and powerful gallery owners. The digital age is spawning creators who choose to be defined by their creativity more than their skills. The negligible incubation time of digital art has enabled experimentation at staggering levels. Just a few minutes of browsing on the online art community, DeviantArt, is enough to gauge the scope of what digital art can achieve.

Sure enough, in the 21st century, entire creative industries are getting democratised like never before. Take photography, for example. Digital photography enabled everyone to capture a memory, and then convert it into personalised artwork with a plethora of editing options. Apps like Instagram reduced the learning curve even further with its set of filters that could lend character to even unremarkable snaps. Prisma further helped to make photos look like paintings, shaving off several more steps in the editing process. Now, yet another industry is showing similar signs of disruption – videography.

Once burdened by unreliable film, bulky cameras and prohibitive production costs, videography is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and a decent Internet bandwidth. A lay person casually using social media today has so many video types and platforms to choose from - looping Vine videos, staccato Musical.lys, GIFs, Instagram stories, YouTube channels and many more. Videos are indeed fast emerging as the next front of expression online, and so are the digital solutions to support video creation.

One such example is Vizmato, an app which enables anyone with a smartphone to create professional-looking videos minus the learning curve required to master heavy, desktop software. It makes it easy to shoot 720p or 1080p HD videos with a choice of more than 40 visual effects. This fuss- free app is essentially like three apps built into one - a camcorder with live effects, a feature-rich video editor and a video sharing platform.

With Vizmato, the creative process starts at the shooting stage itself as it enables live application of themes and effects. Choose from hip hop, noir, haunted, vintage and many more.

The variety of filters available on Vizmato
The variety of filters available on Vizmato

Or you can simply choose to unleash your creativity at the editing stage; the possibilities are endless. Vizmato simplifies the core editing process by making it easier to apply cuts and join and reverse clips so your video can flow exactly the way you envisioned. Once the video is edited, you can use a variety of interesting effects to give your video that extra edge.

The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.
The RGB split, Inset and Fluidic effects.

You can even choose music and sound effects to go with your clip; there’s nothing like applause at the right moment, or a laugh track at the crack of the worst joke.

Or just annotated GIFs customised for each moment.

Vizmato is the latest offering from Global Delight, which builds cross-platform audio, video and photography applications. It is the Indian developer that created award-winning iPhone apps such as Camera Plus, Camera Plus Pro and the Boom series. Vizmato is an upgrade of its hugely popular app Game Your Video, one of the winners of the Macworld Best of Show 2012. The overhauled Vizmato, in essence, brings the Instagram functionality to videos. With instant themes, filters and effects at your disposal, you can feel like the director of a sci-fi film, horror movie or a romance drama, all within a single video clip. It even provides an in-built video-sharing platform, Popular, to which you can upload your creations and gain visibility and feedback.


So, whether you’re into making the most interesting Vines or shooting your take on Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’, experience for yourself how Vizmato has made video creation addictively simple. Android users can download the app here and iOS users will have their version in January.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Vizmato and not by the Scroll editorial team.