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Goonga Pehelwan

PLANO: Thursday, September 15th 2015  @  7:15pm

46 min/ India/Documentary / Hindi with English subtitles

SYNOPSIS​Goonga Pehelwan is a documentary that follows India’s most successful deaf athlete on his quest to reach the Rio Olympics 2016 and become only the second deaf wrestler in the history of the Olympics to do so.
This film, a biopic documentary on Virender Singh is an attempt to make possible the dream of India’s most successful deaf athlete- his dream of making it to the Rio Olympics 2016. The film, made over a period of 13 months, is important because it asks tough questions to the sporting bureaucracy in India, brings to light all that he has achieved and hopes that even if the bureaucracy doesn't wake up to his genius at least the people of the country know about this smiling champion. The struggle that Virender faces outside the wrestling arena are the tougher ones because inside the ring he is in total control and there aren’t too many fights that he loses. It’s the battles outside the ring that this film endeavors to make him win. India - Virender wants to hear from you.

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Purpose of the film 
The film is a biopic documentary of Virender’s life and through the film the filmmakers have tried to raise two major issues plaguing the Indian sporting bureaucracy in the realm of the differently abled sports and the democratizing of the sporting system in India. These issues are: -

  • Lack of access to equal opportunities for the differently abled - The differently abled athletes are not considered a part of the larger sporting fraternity that should be granted equal access to sporting facilities and competitions thereby making it impossible for them to compete with able bodied athletes. In Virender’s case, this issue presents itself whenever he tries to compete with able bodied wrestlers and because of his inability to hear the whistle he is ejected from national competitions thereby rendering his Olympic dream impossible even though the International wrestling body FILA and the International Olympic Committee allow deaf wrestlers to participate in able bodied competitions and also the Olympics with the help of visual and tactile cues. 

  • Unequal, ad-hoc and meager cash rewards, incentives and govt. awards – The Central Sports policy has no specific policy for rewarding the disabled athletes. Incidentally the only place that they find mention is in the negative list of the ‘ Scheme of Special Awards to Medal Winners in International Sports Events and their Coaches’ that essentially renders them ineligible to receive anything from the government for bringing laurels for the country. Even government awards are difficult to come by and athletes languish in anonymity and because of no real avenues for cash rewards sustenance becomes difficult in most cases as is true in Virender’s case. 

Film Festivals in which Goonga Pehelwan has participated

  •  62nd National Film Awards, 2015.

  • The 7th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, 2014.

  • VIBGYOR International Film Festival, 2014.

  • Delhi International Film Festival,2014.

  • WeCare Film Festival, 2015.

International Film Festival Competitions:

  •  10th Input Film Festival, Netherlands, 2014.

  • 4th All Sports Los Angles Film Festival, 2014.

  • River to River Florence Indian Film Festival, 2014.

  • 9th Seattle South Asian Film Festival, 2014.

  • 5th Mongolia International Film Festival, 2014.

  • International Documentary and Short Film Awards Jakarta, 2014.

  • International Film Festival of Prayag, 2014.

Prizes and awards won:

  •  Best Debut Film of a Director at the 62nd National Film Awards, 2015.

  • Special Jury Mention at The 7th International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala, 2014.

  • Opening Film at Indian Panorama 2015, 46th International Film Festival

This film is directed by three young directors from Ahmedabad, who took up the issue for this feature length documentary film, which subsequently led to almost a dozen national stories and brought Virender’s story to a wide audience. Incidentally, there was only a solitary national news piece on him before they started working on the film.
Working on the film for over a period of 13 months, the filmmakers researched the issue in depth and aim to persist with the issue by trying to bring about a policy level change that brings equitable treatment to athletes with disabilities.
The three directors are Mit Jani, Prateek Gupta and Vivek Chaudhary.


Drishti uses media and the arts to build empowered communities that value self-expression and uphold human rights. We believe that community media has the power to revolutionize grassroots struggles and to promote sustainable change. Therefore, we are actively working to build a media of the people, for the people and by the people in partnership with NGOs around India.
We stand in solidarity with local communities by bringing their voices together over the airwaves, featuring their stories and struggles in film, and advocating for their rights. 

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