Maple Batalia's life and death honoured in new movie

Aug 31 2016, 5:51 am

The tragic story of Maple Batalia, the Surrey teenager who she was shot dead in an SFU parking lot five years ago, is being turned into a feature film.

Batalia was only 19 when she was killed by her ex-boyfriend Gurjinder Dhaliwal, after she tried to break up with him over his alleged infidelities.

Dhaliwal was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year, after pleading guilty to Batalia’s murder.

Filmmaker Mani Amar, who has previously worked on films about gang issues in Metro Vancouver, says he wants to honour Batalia’s story – both her life and death.

“It’s overwhelmingly saddening,” Amar told Daily Hive. “I’ve surrounded myself in situations where I hear a lot about death… but this one stunned me.

“She was such a good person – a nice, hardworking, beautiful, driven, young person. Society lost a good person.”

‘Hopefully it saves another young woman’

Amar says he was approached with the idea of the film by Batalia’s sister, Roseleen, who wanted to shine a light on Batalia’s story, and the danger of abusive relationships.

“Domestic violence across the world is not talked about readily,” said Amar. “It’s so common, it’s almost been quietly accepted by society.”

Amar hopes his film can help prevent more tragedies.

“If we look at this case of Maple and this young man, early signs were there, and it’s important young people are aware of these signs.

“Hopefully it saves another young woman from losing her life.”

Amar is now writing and researching the film, conducting interviews with those on all sides, including people who were there on the night of the shooting.

“There’s what you see on news, and then there’s so much more,” said Amar, who added he is also interviewing those who knew the perpetrators, as well as Batalia.

‘She wanted to rescue him’

The movie, which Amar is currently self-funding on a shoestring budget, will likely not be released until 2018, and will be a film based on true events, rather than a documentary.

“The reach of films versus documentary films is far greater,” said Amar. “Having the ability to write a story and connect portions of Maple’s life in a 90-minute fictional film, will be more powerful than with a two-hour documentary.”

As he continues to discover more about Batalia, Amar says the most moving thing about her story is that she still wanted to help Dhaliwal, even as they were breaking up.

“She wanted to rescue him from the bad choices he was making,” said Amar. “Even though he was abusive, she still felt she could help him.

“That was her nature, thinking that she could save him.”

Jenni SheppardJenni Sheppard

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