Making a film on the Mountain Man is proving to be a Herculean task indeed. A fortnight ago, Ketan Mehta announced his project based on the life of Dashrath Manjhi who singlehandedly managed the feat of constructing a 360 feet long road in Bihar by cutting a mountain.
But Bhagirath Dashrath Manjhi, son of Dashrath Manji has now issued a public notice in trade magazines stating that the rights to make a film has been exclusively assigned to filmmaker Neerraj Pathak by him. According to the notice no other person has the consent to make a film on his late father. The notice further states that he has the right to take legal action against anyone who attempts to infringe the personal rights of his family.
Ketan Mehta who is out of Mumbai was unavailable for comment. His wife, actress-turned-filmmaker Deepa Sahi says, “It is a true life story so anyone can make a film based on it. It is part of our history so no one can have a copyright to it.” Earlier in July 2010, director Manish Jha had announced a film, Manjhi, based on the life of Dashrath Manjhi. The film was to be produced by Sanjay Singh, who previously produced Udaan (2010) and Manoj Bajpai was slated to play the lead. But the project never saw light of day.
Who was Dashrath Manjhi?
Mountain Man Dashrath Manjhi (1934-2007) was born in a labourer family in Gahlour village, near Gaya in Bihar. His wife, Falguni, died due to lack of medical care, as the nearest centre was 70 km away. Dashrath did not want anyone else to suffer, so he single-handedly carved a 360-foot-long, 25-foot-high and 30-foot-wide road by cutting a mountain of Gehlour hills for 22 years from 1960 to 1982. He reduced the distance between Atri and Wazirganj blocks of Gaya district from 75 km to just one km.