The team was preparing to leave the NIILM University campus in Kaithal, Haryana, India, where they had been filming for over a month, when they were detained against their will under false accusations.
Ankita Shinde, working for Rai, insisted that their luggage and personal belongings be searched and that all personal hard drives and footage be surrendered to Shinde immediately or they would not be permitted to leave. Deprise Brescia’s team had already provided all of their footage and Rai-purchased hard drives to Rai Foundation personnel, despite contracts giving them rights to the film footage for the documentary Change.
Calls were exchanged between Shinde and Rai, who was in Delhi, as the situation escalated. The Americans demanded to be transported safely to Delhi and speak to the U.S. Embassy. Attempting to leave the university grounds and call local cabs to transport them to Delhi, the Americans found the iron gates of the university locked and guarded by armed, Hindi-only speaking guards who refused to permit them exit under the orders of Rai and his staff at the university.
Immediately the Americans tried to reach out on their India phones, provided initially by Rai’s team, only to find that numbers to key people and the U.S. Embassy in Delhi had been blocked and all Internet access cut. Documentary crew members, Jessica Dunn and Deprise Brescia, using personal phones, were able to place a call to Bia Sousa Guedes, from Portugal, and several members of the team who had made it to Delhi the evening before after a full day of failed attempts to leave the NIILM University compound. They were then able to alert the U.S. Embassy and the Haryana Police to rescue the others.
While attempting to exit the university grounds, both Deprise Brescia and April Kachilla were forcibly pulled back from the gates and seriously bruised by the guards and the dozens of men in Rai’s employment who surrounded the Americans.
When the Haryana Police arrived, Rai personnel lied about the source of conflict but finally agreed to release the Americans. The condition for their release was signing a document with false and misleading information that would deny the Americans all rights to any film footage shot on NIILM property. The Americans signed under duress to simply not having any NIILM University property in their possession.
After several hours and still in fear for their safety, the Americans were transported the four-hour drive from Kaithal to New Delhi to the safety of a hotel set up by the CARE India Organization team member, Deepa Sharma, and Monster Cable executive, Kim Tan, who had been informed earlier via emails from Giselle Grayson indicating the Americans were in extreme danger. In Delhi, the U. S. Embassy personnel advised the Americans to leave India immediately for their safety. With the assistance of United Airlines, British Airways, and Allianz Global Assistance, the Americans were able to leave India within 24 hours of their release.
Having reached the safety of the US the Americans are now preparing to take action against Rai, the Rai Foundation, and all parties involved in their illegal detainment. Vinay Rai gained notoriety in 2006 when the company that he headed was investigated of fraud that lost investors millions in US dollars. Rai is currently involved with the Rai University system, a private multi-campus college system in India, whose students’ education is largely sponsored by NGOs and wealthy individuals. NIILM University, part of the Rai University system, was the site of the Americans’ detainment. Vinay Rai’s demands for their film footage may have been motivated by his fear that their filming may uncovered several irregularities at NIILM University.
“Now that we’re home we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to prevent this from happening to other women. This is exactly the kind of thing we set out to stop when we signed on to make a film about empowering women and ending their oppression,”
Documentary crew members taped and documented the entire hostage situation and successfully made it home with that footage.
Press contact for Giselle Grayson & Kara Ragland: Zoe Marks: PR@halomusicmedia.com I +1.702.625.0441 (tel:%2B1.702.625.0441)
Press contact for Deprise Brescia: email@example.com | +1.310.621.7543 (tel:%2B1.310.621.7543)
Press contact for Bia Sousa Guedes: firstname.lastname@example.org | +351 93 339 39 70 (tel:%2B351%
Press Contact for Kay Gore: email@example.com I +1.805.266.4055 (tel:%2B1.805.266.4055)
Press Contact for Jessica Dunn: ajobwelldunn@
Press Contact for April Kachilla: aprilkdesigns@
For the DREAMZ movie trailer:
For more information on DREAMZ the movie go to: *Please note that several cast
members have been removed from the website in reprisal for the incident above*
For more information on the documentary CHANGE go to: