SURREY — A local filmmaker is working to bring Maple Batalia’s tragic story to the big screen.
The Surrey woman, 19, was shot and stabbed to death by an ex-boyfriend in September of 2011.
She was an aspiring actress and model who studied health sciences at SFU Surrey before she was murdered in a parking lot at the university campus.
Last March, a judge sentenced Gurjinder Dhaliwal to life in prison with no eligibility to apply for parole for 21 years after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Batalia’s death.
The court heard Dhaliwal was obsessed with Batalia and couldn’t handle it after she ended their four-year relationship.
Five years after the crime, and with the blessing of Batalia’s family, filmmaker Mani Amar wants to shed light on her life.
“My main goal and full priority with this film is get awareness out about Maple’s story as well as educate young women about the dangers of dating and domestic violence, which is a huge topic that hasn’t really been talked about,” Amar told the Now.
He described his planned film as a work of fiction based on a true story, and that he hoped the movie would one day be shown in theatres.
“In my head, I want to do the story of the last 24 hours of Maple’s life,” explained Amar, who said the project could begin filming as early as the fall of 2017.
“Right now I’m in the research and writing stage, and the research itself is a massive undertaking,” Amar said.
“To do Maple’s story justice, I have to dot every I, cross every T, look in every nook and cranny and talk to as many people as I can.”
They include Batalia’s sister Rosaleen, who met Amar and supported his film work prior to Maple’s death.
The time is right for the film to be made, Rosaleen said Wednesday, now that Maple’s killer has been sentenced.
“A film about Maple has been in the back of my mind for quite some time now, and our family has always been looking at ways to educate, inform and create awareness about her story,” Rosaleen said on the phone from California, where she now lives.
“We want to tell her story, the one most people don’t really know.”
In May, Gursimar Bedi, 26, who was accused of acting as Dhaliwal’s “eyes and ears” in Batalia’s murder, was acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of being an accessory to murder after the fact. Bedi will be sentenced on Oct. 31 in a Vancouver courtroom, according to Rosaleen.