The story of a “dead” man is coming alive on the big screen. Lal Bihari ‘Mritak’, 65, a resident of Azamgarh district, remained “dead” in revenue records for 19 years and had to battle all this time before he could be declared “alive”. The biopic on his life is titled “Kaagaz” and has written and directed by Satish Kaushik. The film is scheduled release on January 7, 2021 in cinemas and also on the OTT platform simultaneously.
Actor Pankaj Tripathi has portrayed the character of Mritak while other actors in it include Monal Gajjar, Mita Vashisht, Amar Upadhyay and Satish Kaushik. The film highlights corruption and flaws in the system also.
“I am very happy that my struggle is being chronicled on celluloid. I hope my story will reach out to people and make the system better in the future. I am eagerly waiting to see the film,” Mritak told reporters.
Talking about his journey, he said that he first came to know that he was declared ‘dead’ in revenue records when he applied for a bank loan in 1975 in Khalilabad district (now Sant Kabir Nagar).
His uncle had bribed an official to register him as ‘dead’ and got the ownership of his ancestral land transferred in his name.
“This is something which, I later found, was very common in the rural interiors of the state. It was a legalised way of land grabbing. There are still many who are struggling to come ‘alive’,” he said.
Over the years, Mritak tried various several ways to expose the bungling in records and attract attention to his plight.
He organised his own funeral, and even applied for a widow pension for his wife. He also went on to contest elections in 1989 against then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to prove that he is alive. In 1994, he finally managed to get his official death annulled after a long legal struggle.
He also added the suffix Mritak to his name and founded the Mritak Sangh to help in highlighting the plight of similar people declared dead in records in a conspiracy to usurp their property.