The fearless crusader who infamously towed Indira Gandhi’s illegally parked car is the subject of Yes Madam, Sir, a documentary by Australian filmmaker Megan Doneman. Heralding the title of the first female police officer in India, Kiran Bedi has become renowned for her enduring courage and stance against government bureaucracy and internal corruption.
A controversial figure and recipient of the Asia Nobel Prize, Bedi’s tenacity and independence to revolutionise policing defines Bedi as a change maker and a fascinating subject. First time director and former assistant film editor, Doneman has gained extensive and rare insights into a six year period of Bedi’s life that prove to be of invaluable worth. From humble beginnings, to successfully governing and improving a prison, Yes Madam, Sir, details the struggles and the achievements of a divisive woman.
Bedi’s choices are indicative of the plight working mothers (and fathers too) across the world. In her own life, Bedi claims to have kept her career on the same level as her family. Supposedly, family did not come first, nor did her work, and yet as a result, consequences and tensions are evident. Despite her claims of balance, it seems clear that Bedi has dedicated her life to her service, placing aside time with her husband, parents and children in preference for work.
The film also comments on the value of education. Bedi’s parents educated their children in a time and place where girls were still seen as commodities. Bedi’s confidences, stemming from her parents, seem to cause the controversies that she summoned and help her endure through her working life.
A co-production between Australia and India, the film travelled on the festival circuit in 2009, and has finally received distribution. Narrated by Helen Mirren, who brings an earth mother tone to the film, Yes Madam, Sir is another inspiring documentary that succeeds due to its strong and affable subject. Like Bill Cunningham in Bill Cunningham New York, Bedi is a captivating character whose spirit is irresistible and proves to be a compelling force, daring to be reckoned with.
Yes Madam, Sir is on limited release through Antidote Films from December 8.