EXCLUSIVE: “This story cannot be buried and not talked about”- Ashoke Pandit and Priyanka Ghatak on why Indian athlete Pinki Pramanik’s story needs to be narrated

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On the afternoon of Tuesday, July 6, filmmaker Ashoke Pandit took to his social media handle to announce that he has acquired the rights to the film on the life of Indian athlete Pinki Pramanik. Soon enough, Twitter was buzzing with curiosity around Pinki as the announcement also mentioned -“The most controversial story of a woman athlete who was accused of being a man and implicated in rape charges”. This unique case is just a small part of Pinki’s life but had a life-changing impact. Writer Priyanka Ghatak said that the story of Pinki does not just end with gender determination and identity. It is a much bigger issue and has not been highlighted in mainstream cinema.

EXCLUSIVE: “This story cannot be buried and not talked about”- Ashoke Pandit and Priyanka Ghatak on why Indian athlete Pinki Pramanik’s story needs to be narrated

Post the announcement of the film, Bollywood Hungama spoke to producer Ashoke Pandit and writer Priyanka Ghatak about the film and what prompted them to narrate this story. “My writer Priyanka narrated this story to me, about this character, and I found it very interesting. I said this story has to be told to the world. Because this is impossible as to what can happen to not a normal person but to the star of a country. She was at the top and if such people can become victims of the system, then it is a story that needs to be narrated. So we took a call and we have been researching and working on it for the last six-seven months. We were in touch with Pinki also for a long time, for four to five months. We did the RnD with her and got Pinki onboard formally 15-20 days back,” said Ashoke Pandit.

Pinki was all of 10 when she began running and that too barefoot. All the little girl wanted at that time was to be on TV. She went on to bring laurels to the country at various events like the 2006 Commonwealth games, 2005 Asian Indoor Games, 2006 Asian Games, among others. At the age of 22, she was accused of being a man and was also implicated in a rape case after she was accused by a woman. She was also sent to male prison which had 1000 other male inmates. It has been almost 10 years since the incident and not much is known about what transpired. “This is not a story of Google. I have worked on this for 8 months,” says Ashoke Pandit when asked further about what ultimately happened on the case.

“This story has to come out. This story has to be told to the people, to the world. It is very important. We have to pay tribute to such achievers and such achievers are without God Fathers. Imagine a girl from a small-time village called Purulia (West Bengal). She reached a top-level and then the downhaul. So it’s very important for people to know about this story. It cannot be buried and not talked about,” he added.

Writer Priyanka Ghatak had earlier collaborated with Ashoke Pandit on Chargesheet and is also a well-known crime thriller writer on television. When asked about how she came across the story of Pinki and what got her hooked on to it, she said, “Pinki Pramanik is an Indian gold medallist. In the mainstream, there is no conversation about gender determination tests among female athletes. It is a very big issue. I was following this entire thing. Something similar had happened in South Africa and I was studying it. I was intrigued by this entire thing and while reading, researching, and studying, I came across this girl. And the story just does not end with gender determination and identity. Can you imagine? Because of your gender identity, you are being penalized and punished to an extent where she functioned as a woman and was accused of being a man. Then she is accused of a rape charge and she is kept in jail with around 1000 male inmates in it for 21 days. So the story in itself is a big story of human spirit and resilience. We talk about gender identity, we do pride month, and pride march but nobody really cares about the people who have been paying a price who are dealing with gender identity issues. It is high time mainstream commercial cinema should talk about these things.”

Further talking about the narrative of the film, “It is not a documentary. Everything will be encompassed in it. Her sports achievements will not be compromised. Because Pinki Pramanik, irrespective of the case also, we cannot deny that she is a gold medalist. Pinki’s identity is not this case. Her identity is she is a gold medallist, to this country.”

Ever since the announcement, it has been trending on Twitter and has been receiving support from other filmmakers as well. As for what does the woman of the hour- Pinki Pramanik feel? “She is very excited. We went to Kolkata and met with her. She is very happy that I have taken it,” says Ashoke Pandit. He also added that she is currently working as TC in Kolkata.

The cast and crew of the film will be announced soon and the film is expected to go on floors in the next four to five months.

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