Exclusive: Kalpana Chawla’s Husband Denies Rights to Make Biopic

Kalpana Chawla’s husband tells us that he has not given rights to make a film on the late astronaut’s life. 

3 min read
Kalpana’s husband Jean-Pierre Harrison on her biopic. (Photo Courtesy: Harrison Publishing)

Kalpana Chawla got married in 1983 to Jean-Pierre Harrison. And the 20 years, till the unfortunate Space Shuttle Columbia crash that killed her in 2003, are the most cherished memories for her husband. That part of their life is still very private and her husband likes to keep it that way.

To reiterate his commitment to their privacy, he had shared a post on Quora way back in February 2017 where he talked about how he has been approached by filmmakers, actresses to make a movie on Kalpana and how he has never said yes to any of them.

Harrison reached out to us after reading our story about the two parties who claim to have rights for a biopic on his wife’s life.

Also Read: Two Filmmakers Claim to Have Rights to Make Kalpana Chawla Biopic

In an exclusive chat with The Quint, here’s what he had to say.

Not withstanding the foregoing, Kalpana’s life rights entered the public domain upon her death and anyone can make a movie about her. However, given that she and I led private lives, there is very little information about her in the public domain other than the very few interviews she and I gave and what has been provided by NASA about her career. NASA policy regarding the release of additional information is to follow the wishes of the individual (if still living) or whoever holds the estate rights (if deceased). I have not approved the release of any additional information about Kalpana by NASA.
Jean-Pierre Harrison, Kalpana Chawla’s husband
Kalpana with her husband Jean-Pierre. (Photo Courtesy: Harrison Publishing)
Kalpana with her husband Jean-Pierre. (Photo Courtesy: Harrison Publishing)

He mentions how after his wife’s death, information about her life are in the public domain and anyone could make a movie on her. However, he clarifies that he has not not signed any deal with either Priya Mishra or Meenu Arora.

As my Quora post states, I have not issued rights to anyone for a Kalpana biopic. Priya Mishra contacted me several years ago. No deal was agreed. Meenu Arora contacted me several years ago. No deal was agreed. In any case, none of these people are qualified to make a movie about Kalpana. Mr Chawla may have given permission to use his intellectual property rights, privacy rights and publicity rights in a Kalpana movie i.e. his story. That is his right and I have no quarrel with him. However, upon Kalpana‘s demise, all rights associated with her estate devolved to me by law. No one but me can grant permission to use said rights - and I have not done so.
Jean-Pierre Harrison, Kalpana Chawla’s husband

Meenu Arora and Savita Raj Hiremath claim to have the rights from Penguin to turn the book, Kalpana Chawla: A Life by Anil Padmanabhan’s into a film. This is what Mr Harrison had to say about it.

The book by Anil Padmanabhan was written and released shortly after the Columbia accident. It is comprised primarily of public domain information with some (not very much) provided through interviews with some people who knew Kalpana. I find it entertaining that someone would pay a licensing fee for movie rights based on a book that is primarily comprised of public domain information. I find the froth surrounding a possible Kalpana/Priyanka Chopra movie to be entertaining. If you notice, Priyanka Chopra has not confirmed her participation in a Kalpana movie. 
Jean-Pierre Harrison, Kalpana Chawla’s husband

The Quint reported on 26 April that there are two filmmakers who are claiming to have the rights to make a Kalpana Chawla biopic. While Kalpana’s father even confirmed one of the projects, the late astronaut’s husband maintains that he will keep information about their life private.

With so many setbacks already, we will have to wait and see if a film about Kalpana Chawla will even see the light of the day.

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