Junglee Pictures, the Hindi production house, is all set to collaborate with screenwriter Bhavani Iyer (Raazi, Black) for a film inspired by the life of Jeevajothi Santhakumar, whose husband Prince Santhakumar was murdered by restaurant mogul P Rajagopal.
In a press release, Junglee Pictures stated that they have acquired the life rights in all languages of Jeevajothi Santhakumar, for literary and audio-video content.
The film will trace the rags-to-riches rise of Rajagopal, who founded the south Indian food chain Saravana Bhavan. It will also delve into how his pursuit of the unwilling Jeevajothi — less than half his age at the time — and the events that followed led to him being accused of the murder of his employee and Jeevajothi’s husband, Prince Santhakumar, and eventually being convicted of the crime.
Talking about the film, Jeevajothi said in the press release, “I am confident that seeing this story on the big screen will bring about a drastic change in the status quo of patriarchy.”
Iyer, in her statement, said, “When Junglee Pictures reached out to me to tell this story inspired by real events, I was immediately struck by how an aspirational story can quickly turn into a cautionary tale. Just one moment in your life and your response to it can define you either as a survivor or a victim. Jeevajothi fought a long battle against an incredibly powerful person and has survived to tell the tale.”
“The fact that she has made something special out of her life is a testament to what she is truly made of, and an inspiration to me as a woman first, then as a writer. So in our story, one character is a true survivor, while the other is a classic example of what power and delusion can lead to. Writing this is a fabulous challenge and I am so excited to get started,” she added.
The makers will soon announce the cast and crew of the film.
In 2001, Rajagopal was accused of threatening, abducting, and murdering his employee Prince Santhakumar, so he could marry Jeevajothi. In 2004, a sessions court in Chennai convicted Rajagopal and eight others for culpable homicide with 10 years imprisonment. Rajagopal appealed to the Madras High Court, which sentenced him to life in prison in 2009.
After avoiding prison citing health reasons for 10 years, he appealed against the order in the Supreme Court, but in March 2019, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the High court.
However, on July 18, 2019, a week after he finally surrendered to serve out his life sentence, Rajagopal died of cardiac arrest.