Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani are bringing the inspiring story of the Arjuna Award Winner Paralympian Deepa Malik, India’s first and only woman to win a medal at the Paralympic Games and who has bagged 54 gold medals at the national level and 13 at the international level in swimming, javelin throw and shot put, to the silver screen.
Ritesh Sidhwani, who is producing Deepa’s biopic with partner Farhan Akhtar under their banner Excel Entertainment, dispensed, “I had watched videos of her and knew that her life story was unreal, but when I met her and she let me hold her medal, the sheer weight of the silver gave me gooseflesh. At one point in her life, she had to choose between death and life in a wheelchair and she chose the latter. But as she sat in front of me, there was nothing differently-abled about her. She was empowering, a pillar of strength, and I knew that we needed to take her fight to the big screen.”
Ritesh Sidhwani further shared, “In 2006, she took to javelin throw and then had to change her sport one year before the Paralympics. For an event for which people train their entire lives, she had only 12 months to learn shot put. She returned home with a silver medal in Rio.”
The biopic is expected to release early next year. The process of documenting Deepa’s journey has already begun. The casting has not begun but as the ace producer says, it will be a career-defining role for any actress as it’s not only about an athlete, but also the person she is today.
Paralysed from the chest down due to spinal cord damage at T-2 to T-7 level and three spinal surgeries resulting in 153 stitches between shoulder blades, 46-year-old Malik may well be the poster girl of the Paralympic movement.
Overcoming adversity, she has achieved success as a businesswoman, rally driver and athlete.