Cinematography for the film was handled by Madhu Ambat. The film's score and soundtrack was composed by A. R. Rahman, and the theme song for the film, "Alive", was composed by Rahman and sung by Karen David, who has a small cameo in the film. Shot in London, the film was released in April (Easter Weekend) 2007.
Kiranjit Ahluwalia (Aishwarya Rai), a battered Punjabi homemaker and mother of two, living in Southall, UK with her 2 children and abusive, alcoholic husband, Deepak Ahluwalia (Naveen Andrews). Unable to bear the brutality and repeated rapes at the hands of her spouse, she sets fire to him, unintentionally killing him. Charged with murder, her case comes to the notice of a group of South Asian social workers running an under funded organization called the Southall Black Sisters.
After being sentenced to life imprisonment, she befriends her cellmate, a caucasian woman named Veronica Scott (Miranda Richardson), who teaches her English. Veronica is also friends with several girls in the prison and stands up for Kiranjit against the local prison bully. Veronica realises what a good person Kiranjit is and enlists her brother, Edward Foster QC (Robbie Coltrane), a highly respected Queen's Counsel, to aide in Kiranjit's appeal. Edward, in turn, realizes Kiranjit's importance to his sister and the importance of her case. His sister's request has additional meaning given that Veronica would not let him help her with her own appeal due to their on off relationship since childhood.
Before Kiranjit's appeal hearing the Southall Black Sisters bring her plight to the attention of the media by organizing rallies to gather public support for her freedom. She is ultimately freed by the judicial system in a landmark case called "R v Ahluwalia", redefining provocation in cases of battered women in the UK. (She was reconvicted from murder to manslaughter; but released with time served). Kiranjit is reunited with her children and subsequently given an award by Cherie Blair, for her crusade against domestic violence. (The award is not shown on the film although it is accredited at the end).
After seeing the film, Ms Patel is said to have told the Oberserver newspaper "I cringe a bit because I was so closely involved. Sometimes I think people should rise to the challenge of reflecting real life better. My view is that the reality is far more interesting."
Rahila Gupta, who co-wrote Circle of Light and the script, added: "It's a shame that film is an artistic form in which you have to make a fair amount of compromises to make it happen." She criticised the film's characterisation as "one dimensional", and the portrayal of Kiranjit Ahluwalia's husband as an alcoholic.
In the film Kiranjit Ahluwalia is portrayed as a middle class homemaker instead of a factory worker as she was in reality, Pragna Patel and Rahila Gupta's characters are merged to create one person, played by the Indian actress Nandita Das, and Americanized legal terminology rather than the actual British. The director Jagmohan "Jag" Mundhra in his defense said "Even if you tell a true story, a true story is never really a true story. How do you define the truth? None of us were really there and obviously the recollections of people who were there have changed now. Ultimately I do have to tell an engaging story. If I can't tell an engaging story no matter what cause is at stake, nobody will see it."