Writer and director Alankrita Shrivastava, (‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, ‘Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare’, ‘Bombay Begums’, ‘Made in Heaven,’ ‘Modern Love Mumbai’) is now all set to helm a major motion picture about the South-Asian social media star Qandeel Baloch. Shrivastava and co-producers Vikas Sharma and Sunny Khanna, have acquired the rights to ‘The Sensational Life and Death of Qandeel Baloch’ by Sanam Maher, a book published by Aleph.
Says Shrivastava, “When Qandeel Baloch was murdered in Pakistan in 2016, I was shaken up. It was a heinous honour killing. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I started watching Qandeel’s videos repeatedly, and I was fascinated. She was so charming and full of life. A poor girl from a small village, who worked her way up to being provocatively famous. She was just 26 when she was killed. And ironically, it’s only after her death that she has been reclaimed as a feminist.”
For producers Vikas Sharma and Sunny Khanna, backing this story is an opportunity to tell a unique story on female agency and systemic gender violence. Sharma has already carved a niche for himself with films like ‘Qarib Qarib Single’ , ‘Toba Tek Singh’ and ‘Baarish aur Chowmein’ . During his stint in Zee5 as a producer, he helped put together a unique collaborative venture under Zee’s “Special Projects” initiative and brought together some of the industry’s foremost storytellers such as Nikkhil Advani, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Ketan Mehta, Bejoy Nambiar, Tanuja Chandra and Aparna Sen – all on one platform. He says, “Qandeel’s story needs to be told by a sensitive filmmaker who is passionate about women’s stories. Alankrita is just the filmmaker for it. And not just because she is an award-winning feminist filmmaker, but because she has so much empathy for her characters. She tells their stories with candour and warmth.”
Co-producer Sunny Khanna is on the same page. With over 20 years of experience across the gamut of the Indian film business and content distribution, Khanna has worked with major film studios and his co-production credits include ‘Why Cheat India?’, ‘Silence’, ‘Bheja Fry 2’ and he says, “Qandeel Baloch’s story is important and relevant. Even today women often continue to be at risk when they dare to express their individuality and challenge the status quo. I believe the world needs to watch stories like this. And I’m looking forward to the journey of this film.”
Tulsea represents Alankrita Shrivastava and will be packaging the film. Alankrita Shrivastava sums it up, “I see this film as an ode to the courageous spirit of Qandeel Baloch. It will chronicle her sensational and astonishing rise to fame. I hope to piece together the memories of the rebellious, funny and vulnerable young girl, whose life was cut short because she shimmered too bright. The film will celebrate her spunk and lust for life by telling her story without judgment, hopefully the way she would have liked to tell it.”