IPOH, Jan 16 — Kindergarten teacher M. Indira Gandhi is optimistic about a proposal to make a documentary film about her battle with her ex-husband over the conversions and custody of their three children.
She said the production of the documentary, which was proposed by former law minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, would serve as a lesson and a reminder for local and international audiences on the plight of a single mother who had to fight for her right as a parent to decide on the religious status of her children.
“I believe it is a good move because more people will understand what my family and I went through in the last seven years of our struggle,” she said.
“It would be a good idea to screen the documentary online to enable the message to reach a global audience.”
Asked if she was prepared to be featured in the film, Indira said the parties involved were still discussing the project.
“There are still many things that need to be studied. I don’t know if I would be featured or whether my children would be involved,” she said.
Lawyer M. Kulasegaran, who represented Indira since 2009, revealed that both Indira and he had met Zaid in Kuala Lumpur last Tuesday to discuss the project.
Kulasegaran said the idea came from a column written by Zaid in an English daily two weeks ago where Zaid suggested that Indira’s plight needed to be highlighted in a documentary film.
“Zaid suggested the film be produced by raising public funds,” he said.
“We are looking at producing a 40-minute documentary which will focus on the relationship between Indira and her children and the numerous stumbling blocks she has faced along the way.
“I have provided the background to the case and we are hoping to start shooting by the end of next month,” he said.
On the potentially sensitive nature of the film and whether it could be banned by the National Film Development Corporation, Kulasegaran said decisions would be made as the matters arise.
He said no decision had been made on the cast and the director, adding the film could be released on numerous platforms, including YouTube.
Indira’s seven-year struggle to be reunited with her youngest daughter took a turn for the worse when the Court of Appeal, led by judge Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi, held a majority decision that the validity of the conversion certificates of Indira’s three children by their Muslim convert father could only be determined by a Shariah court.
The panel set aside the Ipoh High Court’s 2014 decision to quash the conversion certificates. The Court of Appeal ruled only a Shariah court could decide whether a person is a Muslim.
In April 2009, Indira’s ex-husband Muhammad Riduan Abdullah took away the couple’s three children and converted them to Islam.
The two older children, Tevi Darsiny, then 12, and Karan Dinish, then 11, remained with their mother while the youngest Prasana Diksa, then 11 months old, was taken away by Riduan.
On Oct 29 the same year, Riduan obtained a Shariah court order that awarded him custody of the children, but the Ipoh High Court later granted Indira full custody of all three children.