Cycling from real to reel life: Jyoti Kumari to be protagonist in film


PTI, Jul 1, 2020, 8:17 AM IST

New Delhi: More than a month ago, a 15-year-old girl cycled all the way from Gurugram to a non-descript village in Darbhanga with her debilitated father as a pillion rider. Now, Jyoti Kumari is all set to be the protagonist in a film about her journey.

“Bahut achha lag raha hai (I feel very good),” Jyoti, who also emerged as a symbol of grit amidst the nationwide lockdown that ravaged the lives of many a migrant laborer families, told PTI on being signed up for the film.

Four friends, who are united by a passion for films and documentaries, have bagged the rights for the life story of Jyoti and the project is to set go on the floors from August, according to Shine Krishna, who will be directing the film.

To be titled ‘Atmanirbhar’ (Self Reliant), the film will seek to explore not only Jyoti’s tale but also weave in the systemic issues that had led her to take the arduous journey on cycle in May.

Miraj and Fairoz, working in the Middle East, along with Krishna and Sajith Nambiar have acquired the rights for the film. ‘Wemakefilmz’, a nearly two-decade-old venture set up by Krishna, will be producing it.

The film will be shot in locations that were part of Jyoti’s journey from Gurugram to Darbhanga and will not be a documentary. It will be more fictionalized by including various other incidents, Krishna told PTI.

The actor for the role of Jyoti’s father is being finalized.

“The film will be made in Hindi, English, and Maithili languages as well as dubbed into other languages. For the international audience, the title will be ‘A Journey of a Migrant’ and the film will be subtitled in 20 languages,” Krishna said.

The struggle for Jyoti’s family began in January when her father Mohan Paswan, an e-rickshaw driver in Gurugram, was injured. She came down to Gurugram in Haryana. With no means to earn a livelihood, things turned difficult and Paswan’s landlord gave him an ultimatum to either pay the rent that was due for a few months, or leave amid the lockdown.

At that time, it was Jyoti’s idea to cycle all the way almost 1,200 kilometres to their village in Darbhanga, Bihar. As she persisted, they began their journey and at some places, truckers gave them lifts.

While it was penury that forced the father-daughter duo to make the cycle journey that was spread over nearly eight days, the same journey has also brought her into the spotlight with wide media coverage and help came in from different quarters.

“Bahut change ho gaya (a lot has changed),” Jyoti said over the phone when asked what had changed for her and her family after getting attention in the public. There has also been good support from villagers, she added but did not elaborate on the changes in their lives.

On whether her father will be going back to Gurugram for work, Jyoti said, “nahi (no)”.

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