The South Asian Times

20 July 2018 20:12 PM

Hollywood film on Indian American lawyer's valiant legal battle


New York: Vanita Gupta, an Indian American lawyer who was President Barack Obama’s chief civil rights enforcer, will be the central figure in an upcoming Hollywood movie about the wrongful conviction of a group of mostly black men in 1999 and the valiant legal battle she led for their freedom.

Seth Gordon, director of the film version of Baywatch, will direct the movie that draws its name from the small town where the case took place, Tulia, in west Texas. It’s based on the book, Tulia: Race, Cocaine, and Corruption in a Small Texas Town.

The film is based on the real-life story of the conviction in 1999 of 39 mostly African Americans for possessing and peddling cocaine, based on the highly tendentious and suspect testimony of a white undercover police officer who presented only his word in support of his allegations.

“I’m excited to bring this important and poignant story to a wider audience, to call attention to what happened in Tulia, and to showcase the incredible and heroic work Vanita Gupta did for its citizens,” Gordon said while announcing the film, according to Hollywood Reporter.

“Vanita Gupta is the daughter of an immigrant and a very inspiring and strong woman,” said Mubina Rattonsey, whose Los Angeles-based company is producing the film and who has been associated with projects in Bollywood.

“Tulia is her story, and for me, it represents what America stands for — the coming together of minds and hearts for justice. Vanita turned the case around; she won it…I was simply fascinated by her will to do the impossible.”

There was no word on who will play Gupta, who had headed the civil rights division of the justice department in the Obama administration, and led investigations into the racially-charged killings of African Americans by police officers.

She now heads the DC-based Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and has emerged as a leading critic of President Donald Trump and his administration on civil rights issues such as the handling of the Charlottesville race clashes. 

Update: 09 Sep, 2017