Kiran Bedi interview on upcoming biopic: ‘The story is not just mine, but of every woman who represents India’

India’s first woman IPS Officer Kiran Bedi is set to surf new waters with her biopic, directed by Kushaal Chawla, slated for release in 2025

Updated - June 21, 2024 11:54 am IST

Published - June 21, 2024 11:42 am IST

 Kiran Bedi during an interview in New Delhi

Kiran Bedi during an interview in New Delhi | Photo Credit: SHASHI SHEKHAR KASHYAP

“My life is an open book,” says Kiran Bedi, the country’s first and highest-ranking woman police officer. “But there are also many hidden stories that define me, my work, my life,” she smiles. Those unknown stories and unseen challenges and triumphs of the tough cop are set to be revealed on the big screen with The Name You Know, The Story You Don’t, a biopic by award-winning director Kushaal Chawla whose films, such as One Way and Another Time, have been part of major international festivals.

The script-ready biopic on Kiran Bedi is set to roll into pre-production, according to Chawla, who wishes to make the film a 2025 release to coincide with the United Nations’ 50th International Women’s Year (IWY).

“Things happen on their own,” says Bedi during a chat on the sidelines of the announcement of the biopic in Delhi. “In 1975, when the UN declared the year as IWY, I was on my first posting at the Chandni Chowk subdivision and was chosen to lead an all-male contingent of the Delhi Police at the Republic Day parade. And now, my biopic is aiming for a release in its golden jubilee year!”

Kiran Bedi and Director Kushaal Chawla

Kiran Bedi and Director Kushaal Chawla | Photo Credit: SHASHI SHEKHAR KASHYAP

Chawla added that he feels honoured to be able to write and direct a full-length feature film on Kiran Bedi whose illustrious career would inspire generations to come.

“The story is not just my story, but of every woman who represents Indianness and catapults herself and the country to global heights,” quips Bedi.

When serving as the Governor of Puducherry between 2016 and 2021, Bedi received several offers for a biopic on her. “I kept refusing them, but it clicked with Kushaal; he had extensively researched my life for four-and-half years and waited for me to get free from my government duty,” she says, adding, “I think the time had come; one phase ends and leads you to the next in a natural progression.”

A household name across three generations, Bedi who turned 75 on June 9 remains equally curious about who will be cast in her role. “People would be eager to see who their Kiran Bedi is because the image is etched in everybody’s mind, the portrayal has to be impactful,” she laughs.

“It is a huge responsibility,” agrees Chawla. “I am making an authentic film that will complete the emotional arch of the personal and professional challenges Kiran Ma’am has faced and the sacrifices she made in the line of public duty. The actor will be the closest possible to her, with impeccable self-discipline, determination and the resilience to succeed,” he says, unwilling to reveal more.

The Ramon Magsaysay award winner, who navigated herself in the male-bastion of policing for 35 years, believes in cinema’s power to connect with audiences to understand her as the woman in khaki truly. “From childhood, my parents taught me to be a giver, have an attitude to turn situations around, remain fearful of god and be grateful to all those around me who support me,” she says, when asked how she’s been upfront and outspoken, in her different avatars from police to political to social activist.

Kiran Bedi and director Kushaal Chawla during an interview in New Delhi on June 11, 2024

Kiran Bedi and director Kushaal Chawla during an interview in New Delhi on June 11, 2024 | Photo Credit: SHASHI SHEKHAR KASHYAP

“I have never shirked responsibilities and my conscience drives me to do the right thing the right way at the right time,” says the decorated officer who rose from being a teenage tennis sensation. She says her parents are her role models who instilled in her the right values that gave her the strength and courage to keep going despite run-ins with her seniors, lawyers, and courts during her chequered career.

She recalls her stint as the DCP(Traffic) during the Delhi Asian Games in 1982, when she clamped down heavily on errant motorists, not sparing even the rich and influential citizens. She replaced challans with spot fines and earned the nickname of Crane Bedi for towing away wrongly parked vehicles and even got a car belonging to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s office towed away for wrong parking.

Known to break barriers with innovative solutions in law enforcement or social reforms in Tihar jail as IG (Prisons), Bedi says her leadership skills, indomitable spirit, and her work for equality and justice, collectively speak and she doesn’t need a film to leave her legacy behind. “But the biopic is a divine blessing and Kushaal’s creative force will make my parents proud and immortalize their pain, sacrifices and the role they played in moulding me.”

Kiran Bedi during an interview in New Delhi

Kiran Bedi during an interview in New Delhi | Photo Credit: SHASHI SHEKHAR KASHYAP

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