Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani to produce a biopic on India’s Paralympic champion Deepa Malik

Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani to produce a biopic on India’s Paralympic champion Deepa Malik

Most of the sport-based biopics have done well in Bollywood. From Dangal to M.S. Dhoni – The Untold Story to Mary Kom to Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, such films have not only done well but are also considered inspirational. Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani are already making a sports film, Gold, directed by Reema Kagti and starring Akshay Kumar in leading role. It is based on the life of hockey player Balbir Singh, who was on the team that won the first Olympic medal for India in 1948.

And now Farhan and Ritesh are all set to come up with another sports biopic, on the life of Deepa Malik, India’s first and only woman to win a medal at the Paralympic Games. As per reports, the script developing team of their production house, Excel Entertainment, shared the script for Ritesh. He was bowled over by the story and scheduled a meeting with Deepa Malik. What was supposed to be a thirty minute discussion went on for five hours as Deepa narrated her entire journey to Ritesh. The producer admitted that holding the silver medal that she won gave him gooseflesh. He also observed that he didn’t feel anything differently abled about her and that her sheer strength and determination deserved to be told on screen.

Deepa Malik, now 46, and mother of two girls, suffered from severe backache during her second pregnancy 20 years ago. She had a normal delivery but her pain increased so much that she was not even able to bend to lift her baby. The doctors then detected a tumour in her spinal column, which was operated upon immediately. She had to choose death or life in a wheelchair and she chose the latter. She got 163 stitches between her shoulder blades, when her hubby, cavalier Colonel Bikram Singh, was away in Kargil. She was initially warned that there would be some loss of movement post-surgery. But her spinal cord was so damaged that she was rendered paralysed from the chest down. Yet, she overcame the tumour bravely. After 31 surgeries and 183 stitches at the young age of 26, she went on to become a state-level cricketer for Rajasthan despite the paralytic shocks that had persisted since she was eight. In 2006, she switched tracks and took to javelin throw and later shot put. Ritesh remarked that people train their entire lives for shot put but she had only twelve months to learn the sport. And yet, she returned home with a silver medal from 2016 Summer Paralympics held in Rio de Janeiro.

The casting for Deepa Malik biopic hasn’t begun but the film is expected to go on the floors early next year. Ritesh is confident that essaying Deepa will be a career-defining role for any actress. He plans to feature her children, husband, her hometown Bhaiswal in Haryana and her iconic win at Rio.

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