Meghna Gulzar, the filmmaker behind movies like Talvar, Filhaal... and Dus Kahaniyaan, is all set to make a film on the life of Laxmi Agarwal. Laxmi Agarwal is an acid attack survivor - she was 15 when she was attacked in New Delhi by a man named Gudda and his alias Naeem Khan for rejecting their advances.
Since then, she has been advocating against the sale of acid in the nation. Her petition led to the Supreme Court tightening the laws around the sale of acid and made it easier to prosecute the attackers. Laxmi is also the director of Chhanv foundation, which helps acid attack survivors in the country. Her extensive work was the reason she won the International Woman Of Courage award in 2014, presented to her by Michelle Obama. Recently, Laxmi spoke up about being unable to get a job because of her situation, increasing her financial debt. However, thanks to social media, over 200 job offers flooded in to recruit Laxmi.
The 28-year-old's journey is ready to be transformed into a movie by Meghna Gulzar and actress Deepika Padukone, who will be making her debut by co-producing this movie. "I have been greatly impacted by Meghna’s work and beyond thrilled to be collaborating with her. We now look forward to commencing our journey on this film," the actress said to a leading newspaper.
Deepika Padukone was last seen in Padmaavat and since hasn't taken on any new projects, until this untitled film. On being asked why she picked Deepika to play this role, Meghna said, "It is both an emotionally and physically challenging role to play. I was instinctively convinced that Deepika can do justice to the character and the story. Also, her physicality matched what I had imagined for the character of Laxmi. I am grateful and feel extremely encouraged that Deepika was so spontaneous in her decision to do this film. Also, when you take a face as beautiful as hers, and portray it as an acid survivor, the magnitude of the violence and damage is that much more resounding."
"In spite of regulation on the sale of acid and changes in legislation regarding acid attacks, both of which are consequences of the acid attack case of Laxmi and her PIL - the ground reality is still very grim. Acid violence is a very prevalent danger even today. Medical treatment, compensation, rehabilitation and inclusion of acid attack survivors are still very real challenges. Using Laxmi’s story as a lens, we are attempting to explore these aspects and consequences of acid violence in our society. This is what makes this story, relevant and one that must be told. Because if anything, awareness is the first step towards change," the director added.
Bollywood has begun its uphill battle of sharing meaningful stories of real-life people with movies like Airlift and Neerja. There is a long way to go but maybe Meghna Gulzar's next is exactly what we need to encourage such stories and salute brave-hearts. The film is scheduled to release in February 2019.