Review: ‘To Kill a Tiger,’ a documentary about a family seeking justice for an underage rape

December 1, 2023

by Carla Hay

Kiran (alias) in “To Kill a Tiger” (Photo courtesy of Notice Pictures Inc. and National Film Board of Canada)

“To Kill a Tiger”

Directed by Nisha Pahuja

Hindi, Nagpuri and Khortha with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in India, from 2016 to 2018, the documentary film “To Kill a Tiger” features an all-Indian group of representing the working-class and middle-class.

Culture Clash: In a legal system where it’s difficult for people to get convicted of rape, a farmer leads the fight to get justice for his daughter, who was gang raped when she was 13 years old.

Culture Audience: “To Kill a Tiger” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching a real-life story about family loyalty and about persistence in a legal case, against the odds of winning.

Ranjit, NGO activist Amit Singh and Jaganti in “To Kill a Tiger” (Photo courtesy of Notice Pictures Inc. and National Film Board of Canada)

Even though “To Kill a Tiger” shows the devastating aftermath of a heinous crime, the more important takeaway from the film is that it’s an inspiring story of perseverance and love from a family seeking justice. Because this documentary is about a case of an underage girl being gang raped, the subject matter in “To Kill a Tiger” will be difficult for some viewers to watch. However, it’s a meaningful chronicle of what it takes to go up against a justice system where rape victims are often shamed and blamed, while rapists are rarely convicted in a court of law.

Directed by Nisha Pahuja, “To Kill a Tiger” (which takes place mostly in Jharkhand, India) had its world premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival. The movie was mostly filmed from 2016 to 2018. The rape survivor, who has the alias Kiran in the movie, was 18 at the time the documentary was filmed, but she was 13 when the rape happened. “To Kill a Tiger” shows the long process of her case making its way through the legal system in India. (The trial lasted 14 months.)

Although Kiran’s face is shown in “To Kill a Tiger,” and she gives interviews for the documentary, “To Kill a Tiger” includes this caption at the beginning of the film: “Out of respect for her and her family’s privacy, we ask that any identifying images of her not be shared outside the viewing of this film.” The last name of Kiran and her family members is also not revealed in the movie. Her personality is polite, quiet and reserved.

In “To Kill a Tiger,” the parent who does most of the talking is Kiran’s father Ranjit, a farmer who fought tirelessly to get justice. He says when his wife Jaganti was pregnant with Kiran, he was sure that the baby would be a girl, while Jaganti thought the baby would be a boy. Ranjit describes Kiran as a “daddy’s girl.”

Ranjit comments in the documentary, “She was our first child, so I’ve spoiled her … The amount of love have her, I wasn’t able to give to any other child. I think she received all my love, and there’s nothing left for anyone else.”

The rape of Kiran happened on the night of the wedding of Ranjit’s nephew. Kiran stayed out past midnight. Three young men were taken to custody as suspects for the rape: Kapil Munda, Langra Munda and Iswar Munda. They all pleaded not guilty.

In the documentary, Ranjit says that the rape was so violent, it caused internal injuries for Kiran. He also expresses guilt over the circumstances of the rape, even though it wasn’t his fault: “As her father, I deeply regret that I didn’t protect her. I feel I wasn’t vigilant enough, and so this [rape] happened.”

Ranjit continues, “All the other days when she’d go out, I’d tell her how long she could play for and what time to be home. But on that day, I didn’t tell her, and that’s my mistake. That’s what I regret the most.”

Jharkhand is in the Bero district. Ranjit says in “To Kill a Tiger” that after the rape was reported to authorities, the district chief suggested that Kiran marry one of the accused rapists. Other people in the village pressured Ranjit to compromise so the accused rapists wouldn’t have to spend any time in jail while waiting for this serious legal issue to be resolved.

Ranjit has supportive allies, who make a positive difference in getting legal help and counseling for Kiran and her family. These allies include women’s rights activist Mahendra Kumar, public prosecutor Ashok Kumar “A.J.” Rai, Srijan Foundation lawyer Jopha Laka and legal advisor Lakhan Lala Shah.

Kumar says that in his line of work, he all too often sees the backlash against women and girls who come forward to report being sexually assaulted. He says that more men need to be included in the conversations and actions that advocate for women’s rights. Kumar comments that people often mistakenly think men are automatically excluded from feminism or fighting for women’s rights.

Public prosecutor Rai says that his job as a prosecutor is to fight for underage victims under India’s Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POSCO) Act, but laments that he is overwhelmed with all the rape cases he has to handle. At the time that Rai was interviewed for this documentary, he said he had 400 to 500 cases in his current workload.

The three men accused of raping Ranjit are not interviewed in “To Kill a Tiger,” but the documentary includes an interview with their defense attorney Juhi Chaudhry, who blames Kiran for being out past midnight when Kiran was 13 years old. She says of her clients who were arrested for raping Kiran: “If I thought they were guilty, I wouldn’t have taken the case.”

One of the more unsettling scenes in “To Kill a Tiger” is when the documentary shows a group of male villagers talking about the case. One of them, who is only identified by his first name Muthalik, says about sexual assault allegations: “A boy will only be naughty if a girl encourages it.” It’s a stark example of the inherent misogyny of people who are quick to blame female rape victims instead of blaming the rapists.

Of course, in India’s legal system and other legal systems, people are innocent until proven guilty. Cameras were not allowed in the courtroom for the trial of Kiran’s accused rapists, but “To Kill a Tiger” adeptly chronicles the trial through the news media and through the perspectives of Ranjit and other family members who talked about it on camera.

As for how Kiran is recovering from her ordeal, the trial comes to an end (the outcome won’t be revealed in this review), but interviews with her indicate that emotional scars remain. She worries about how being a rape survivor will affect her chances of finding love. “I keep thinking, ‘Will I fall in love or not?’ I think about that a lot. And if I do, how do I tell him what happened to me?”

“To Kill a Tiger” is an impactful documentary about how ordinary people can survive trauma and the experience of an extraordinary legal battle. Although Ranjit is no doubt a hero, and he gets most of the documentary’s screen time, Kiran has a special type of bravery that is the fuel to her father’s fire. Kiran’s story is heartbreaking, but more importantly, it is inspiring.

Notice Pictures released “To Kill a Tiger” in New York City on October 26, 2023, in Los Angeles on October 26, 2023, and in San Francisco on November 4, 2023.

UPDATE: Netflix will premiere “To Kill a Tiger” on March 10, 2024.

2022 Toronto International Film Festival Awards: winners announced

September 18, 2022

The following is a press release from the Toronto International Film Festival:

The Toronto International Film Festival has announced its award recipients for the 47th edition of the Festival, which concluded last evening with the Closing Night screening of Mary Harron’s Dalíland at the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre and Roy Thomson Hall.

“2022 brought an exceptional selection of films that excited festival audiences around the world,” said Cameron Bailey, TIFF CEO. “Our lineup showcased beloved auteurs alongside fresh voices in filmmaking, including numerous women powerhouses. TIFF welcomed guests, press, industry, international stars, and directors back to the city and into cinemas. The sweeping range in cinematic storytelling from around the world is a testament to the uniqueness of the films that are being made. We’re so grateful and proud of this year’s Festival.”


For the 45th year, the People’s Choice Awards distinguish the audience’s top title at the Festival as voted by the viewing public. All films in TIFF’s Official Selection were eligible.

TIFF 2022 People’s Choice Award winner is
The Fabelmans
dir. Steven Spielberg

The first runner-up is Women Talking dir. Sarah Polley
The second runner-up is Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery dir. Rian Johnson

TIFF 2022 People’s Choice Midnight Madness Award winner
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story
dir. Eric Appel

The first runner-up is Pearl dir. Ti West
The second runner-up is The Blackening dir. Tim Story

TIFF 2022 People’s Choice Documentary Award winner
Black Ice
dir. Hubert Davis

The first runner-up is Maya and the Wave dir. Stephanie Johnes
The second runner-up is 752 is not a Number dir. Babak Payami


The 2022 IMDbPro Short Cuts Awards are for Best Film, Best Canadian Film, and the Share Her Journey Award for best film by a woman. Each winning film will receive a bursary of $10,000 CAD and a one-year membership to IMDbPro, the essential resource for entertainment industry professionals, to help them continue achieving success in their careers. Celebrating its 20th anniversary, IMDbPro empowers entertainment professionals to discover new talent and projects and has an ongoing commitment to supporting and collaboratively working with organizations that create greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the entertainment industry, including TIFF’s Share Her Journey campaign. IMDbPro also supported the TIFF Tribute Award for Performance presented by IMDbPro, which was presented to Brendan Fraser for his outstanding performance in The Whale at the TIFF Tribute Awards gala fundraiser on September 11, 2022.

“As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of IMDbPro, we are honoured to present four TIFF Awards that so perfectly align with our mission to help entertainment industry professionals launch and grow their careers and our commitment to highlighting diverse artists and inclusive storytelling,” said Col Needham, Founder & CEO of IMDb. “We congratulate these Award recipients and all professionals whose work was featured at TIFF, and look forward to watching their careers continue to grow following this breakthrough moment.”

The winners of the three awards are:

IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Film:
Snow in September
dir. Lkhagvadulam (Dulmaa) Purev-Ochir

Jury’s statement: “Told through a bold and sophisticated lens, this tense yet poignant portrayal follows a young man’s shift from wide-eyed boy to yearning pursuer. The jury is pleased to present the IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film to Snow in September directed by Mongolia’s Lkhagvadulam (Dulmaa) Purev-Ochir.”

Honourable Mention:
For its wildly entertaining and incredibly realized portrait of a flight attendant’s personal crisis, the jury is very pleased to present an honourable mention for the IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Short Film to Airhostess-737 by director Thanasis Neofotistos. Centred on Lena Papaligoura’s impressive performance, the film is an unhinged, compelling, and memorable tragicomedy.

IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Film:
dir. Aziz Zoromba
Jury’s statement: “Featuring convincing, natural performances and tight direction, the film astutely plays off of narrative conventions to deliver an unexpectedly tender take on growing up in an all-male immigrant family. The jury is delighted to give the IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short to Aziz Zoromba for Simo.”

Honourable Mention:
For its intensely taut and pulsating tale following an aging delivery driver’s movement through a gritty, desperate night in the city, the jury is pleased to present an honourable mention for the IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Canadian Film to Same Old by director Lloyd Lee Choi.

IMDbPro Short Cuts Share Her Journey Award:
dir. Carol Nguyen (2022 TIFF Filmmaker Lab)
Jury’s statement: “With skill, precision, and sensitivity, this film stood out for its delicate and assured portrayal of love and sacrifice within a multi-generational household. The jury is thrilled to give the IMDbPro Short Cuts Share Her Journey Award to Carol Nguyen for Nanitic.”

The 2022 jurors for the IMDbPro Short Cuts Awards are Sally Lee, Thyrone Tommy, and Lisa Haller.


The 2022 NETPAC jury members include: Ida Yoshinaga and Diana Ashimova. TIFF is delighted to announce that the 2022 NETPAC Jury has selected Sweet As, dir. Jub Clerc as this year’s NETPAC winner.

The 2022 NETPAC jury released the following statement: “A model road film in all aspects with great locations and a strong cast, Jub Clerc’s Sweet As convincingly tells the story of an Indigenous girl on a youth-therapy bus tour — dealing with family, friendship, inspiration and self-identity.”


The 2022 FIPRESCI jury members include: Andrew Kendall, Marriska Fernandes, Márcio Sallem, Andrea Crozzoli, and Max Borg. The jury is delighted to announce Basil Khalil’s A Gaza Weekend as this year’s FIPRESCI winner.

The 2022 FIPRESCI jury released the following statement: “For its empathy and intelligence in capturing the zeitgeist, and with its daring approach to contemporary satire and world cinema, we award Basil Khalil’s A Gaza Weekend the 2022 FIPRESCI Prize. Basil Khalil’s direction finds space for the more sorrowful, more tender moments of interpersonal crises even as he deftly escalates the bawdy humour on display, capturing the nature of survival as very serious and very funny business for these characters.”


Canada Goose embraces diversity in all its forms and definitions, including technique and passion that transports storytelling to the screen. This year, Canada Goose presents the Amplify Voices Awards to the three best feature films by under-represented filmmakers. All feature films in Official Selection by emerging filmmakers who are Black or Indigenous or persons of colour and Canadian, were eligible for these awards, and the three winners will receive a cash prize of $10,000 each, made possible by Canada Goose.

The three Amplify Voices Awards presented by Canada Goose winners are:

Amplify Voices Award for Best Canadian Feature Film:
To Kill a Tiger
dir. Nisha Pahuja
Jury’s statement: “It’s not easy to film love. In Nisha Pahuja’s To Kill a Tiger, a father defends his daughter, and together they change a village, a country and, maybe, the world.”

Special Mention for Best Canadian Feature Film:
dir. Stéphane Lafleur
Jury’s statement: “The jury would like to acknowledge Stéphane Lafleur’s brilliant satire, Viking, exploring the intersection of technology and ego.”

Amplify Voices Award:
Leonor Will Never Die
dir. Martika Ramirez Escobar
Jury’s statement: “Leonor Will Never Die, for its original voice, made by a fearless filmmaker who knows how to bring the fun and an incredible lead performance. This film is truly one of one.”

Amplify Voices Award:
While We Watched
dir. Vinay Shukla
Jury’s statement: “While We Watched is a compelling, urgent film that collapses our differences. It is a wake-up call to how perilous and fragile the relationship between a free press and democracy is everywhere.”

Special Mention for Best Feature from an Emerging BIPOC Filmmaker:
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On
dir. Madison Thomas
Jury’s statement: The jury would also like to give special mention to Madison Thomas’s Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On, because “everyone should know about Buffy Sainte-Marie.”

The 2022 jurors for the Amplify Voices Awards presented by Canada Goose are Ann Marie Fleming, Anne Emond, Nathan Morlando, Jennifer Holness, Albert Shin, and Luisa Alvarez Restrepo.


Presented by the Shawn Mendes Foundation, the 2022 Changemaker Award is awarded to a Festival film that tackles issues of social change, and comes with a $10,000 cash prize. The winning film was selected by TIFF’s Next Wave Committee, a group of young film lovers who recognize cinema’s power to transform the world. The Shawn Mendes Foundation will also be making an annual contribution in support of TIFF Next Wave, helping TIFF deliver key initiatives to elevate young voices.

The 2022 jurors for the Changemaker Award are members of TIFF’s Next Wave Committee: Naiya Forrester, Arjun Persaud, Norah Daudi, Honora Murphy, Ellie Tripp, Celina Tang, Simona Williams, Faven Tesfamichael, Tara Sidhu, Keertan Somasundaram, Maggie Kane, and Dev Desai.

The 2022 Changemaker Award is presented to Luis De Filippis’ Something You Said Last Night. Director De Filippis (2018 TIFF Filmmaker Lab, 2020 TIFF Talent Accelerator) offered this statement: “It is an honour to have Something You Said Last Night be acknowledged by the next generation of filmmakers. Thank you to the Next Wave Committee for seeing this story. I am so excited to watch you lead our industry in the coming years. Thank you to the team behind this film who supported, and believed, and put their all into it, even on the bad days — which there were a few. It’s hard not to ignore the building tide of new voices this year at TIFF, and I am so happy to see our stories finally being told and celebrated — a new wave is coming.”

TIFF’s Next Wave Committee provided this statement: “The TIFF Next Wave Committee announces Luis De Filippis as the 2022 Shawn Mendes Foundation Changemaker Award recipient for her debut feature Something You Said Last Night, an honest, immersive, and intensely relatable portrayal of an Italian Canadian family on a summer vacation. Ren (Carmen Madonia, 2022 TIFF Rising Stars) is a character unlike any other we’ve seen. She is talented, she is struggling, she is flawed, she is loved, she is passionate, and she is accepted. She is all of these things, and she is also a young trans woman finding her place in the world. Created with queer and trans creators in front and behind the camera, Something You Said Last Night finds its power in the complex, imperfect truth of humans and our relationships with family. With her film, Luis De Filippis is changing the game — giving a voice to trans people along the way, and creating a future where queer representation exists beyond the one-dimensional stories and characters we’ve seen over and over again. We hope the visibility and recognition of this award will help more young people see and be inspired by the film like we were, and support De Filippis in her development and journey as a filmmaker.”


Named after Jia Zhang-ke’s trailblazing second feature, Platform is the Toronto International Film Festival’s competitive programme championing bold directorial visions. Platform was curated by Anita Lee, Chief Programming Officer; and Robyn Citizen, Director, Festival Programming and TIFF Cinematheque. The Platform Prize Jury members for 2022 are Patricia Rozema (Jury Chair), Iram Haq, and Chaitanya Tamhane and they are delighted to announce that their selection is Riceboy Sleeps, dir. Anthony Shim.

The Platform jury provided this statement: “The 2022 TIFF Platform Jury announces the unanimous choice for the Platform Prize — Riceboy Sleeps, written and directed by Anthony Shim for its deeply moving story and precisely-observed characters as they navigate racism, dislocation, family, and love. It balances social realism with pure poetry. Plus, it’s very funny. The leads Choi Seung-yoon (2022 TIFF Rising Stars), Ethan Hwang, and Dohyun Noel Hwang deserve top honours. Riceboy Sleeps touches on, in a most accessible way, some of humanity’s biggest challenges — how to merge cultures without erasing individuals, how to grow up whole in fragmented families, and how to defend ourselves from internalizing the subtle and not so subtle discriminations of the privileged.”

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About TIFF
TIFF is a not-for-profit cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. An international leader in film culture, TIFF projects include the annual Toronto International Film Festival in September; TIFF Bell Lightbox, which features five cinemas, learning and entertainment facilities; and innovative national distribution program Film Circuit. The organization generates an annual economic impact of $200 million CAD. TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by contributors including Founding Sponsor Bell, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the City of Toronto, the Reitman family (Ivan Reitman, Agi Mandel and Susan Michaels), The Daniels Corporation and RBC. For more information, visit

TIFF is generously supported by Lead Sponsor Bell, Major Sponsors RBC, Visa and BVLGARI and Major Supporters the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, Telefilm Canada, and the City of Toronto.

TIFF is grateful for the generous support of the 2022 festival from the Government of Canada through FedDev Ontario and Telefilm Canada.

TIFF is grateful to Canada Goose for their generous support of the Amplify Voices Awards.TIFF is grateful to IMDbPro for their generous support of IMDbPro Short Cuts Awards for Best Film, Best Canadian Film, and the Share Her Journey Award for best film by a woman.TIFF Short Cuts Programme is made possible through the generous sponsorship of TikTok, and supported by the Ontario Arts Council and the City of Toronto.

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