Film on girl who cycled from Gurugam to Bihar during COVID-19 lockdown lands in controversy

jyoti kumari cycling

A controversy erupted on Friday over the rights of a film on Jyoti Kumari, a 15-year-old girl who cycled from Gurugam to Darbhanga in Bihar during the coronavirus lockdown, after filmmaker Vinod Kapri claimed he has already made an advance payment for the rights over a month ago. Film production venture Wemakefilmz on Friday said it has legally acquired the exclusive motion picture rights for the story.

On Tuesday, PTI reported that four friends, united by passion for films and documentaries, had bagged the rights for the life story of Jyoti. Jyoti will be the protagonist and the project is to set go on floors from August, Shine Krishna, who will be directing the film, had said.

Miraj and Fairoz, working in the Middle East, along with Krishna and Sajith V Nambiar have acquired the rights for the film. They are partners at Wemakefilmz, a nearly two-decade old venture set up by Krishna.

Regarding Kapri’s claim, Krishna said the former’s agreement does not have legal value. Earlier in the day, Kapri tweeted that as per an agreement on May 27, the rights of the film is with Bhagirathi Films Pvt Ltd (BFPL) and no one else can make the movie.

In response to a tweet by acclaimed actor Sanjay Mishra about the film, Kapri tweeted that someone had given Mishra wrong information or misguided him.

Kapri also tagged a video which showed signing of the agreement and a statement to that effect by Mohan Paswan, the girl’s father. In his tweet, Mishra said his participation in the film as the father was how the film fraternity contributes to the society.

Tagging Shine Krishna and Sujit Nambiar, Mishra said the team will bring to the fore the eight days in the life of Jyoti who pedalled more than 1,000 kilometres with father sitting on the back seat of a cycle.

In a statement, Kapri’s BFPL said it signed an agreement with the girl’s father Mohan Paswan on May 27 and 20 per cent of the amount was paid into a bank account, while the remaining 80 per cent was to be paid upon commencement of work.

“Today, we came to know about the new agreement, which is illegal and a breach of contract with Bhagirathi Films. We request Mohan to cancel this new contract and put an end to the dispute. If the new contract goes into force neither Kapri nor Mohan will be able to make a film,” the statement claimed.

The statement was issued by Mahendra, an associate director with BFPL.

Krishna said Wemakefilmz has legally acquired the exclusive motion picture rights on Jyoti Kumari and family.

“Before signing the life story rights option agreement, we have crossed checked the agreement which has been signed through somebody by Kapri… he was not physically present there and there was no sign of Jyoti or her mother. So that one agreement will not have any legal value,” he said in a statement issued on behalf of Wemakefilmz.

Wemakefilmz exclusively holds the life story rights of Jyoti Kumai and family. The agreement has been signed, notarised and registered by the production house’s partners — Krishna, Sajith V Nambiar, Mohammed Miraj Chathoth and Fairoz Chirammal. In the statement, BFPL said nearly a month after signing a contract for a film, web series and documentary with it, Mohan Paswan has entered into a new contract with Krishna.

The struggle for Jyoti’s family began in January when her father, an e-rickshaw driver in Gurugram, was injured. She then came 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.

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