Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani are bringing Paralympian Deepa Malik’s inspiring story on screen. Ritesh Sidhwani, who is producing Deepa’s biopic with partner Farhan Akhtar under their banner Excel Entertainment, shared, “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 go on floors 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. If you are of a certain age, you might even recall her as part of the TV reality show Roadies, where she beat a bunch of smug faced able-bodied youngsters in a swimming race.
Deepa has bagged 54 gold medals at the national level and 13 at the international level in swimming, javelin throw and shot put.
She was honoured with the Arjuna Award in 2012.