About

Jaya, a young purse snatcher, survives Mumbai’s unforgiving streets by posing as a boy and living among a band of thieves. When she meets a wealthy businessman who might be the father who abandoned her, she sets out to reclaim her rightful place in his family, in this engrossing drama that was shortlisted for a Student Academy Award.

Jaya is inspired by a real street girl. Several years ago, police arrested a notorious Indian gang member who was wanted in over a hundred cases of purse and jewelry snatchings. The police assumed they had caught a boy, but after an intense interrogation, they realized they had actually captured a girl. She was masquerading as a boy because she feared being sold into prostitution.

Writer/Director Puja Maewal: “I wanted to feature a female protagonist who is both aggressive and vulnerable, a combination that I don’t often see in female characters onscreen. I also wanted to explore the relationship between a teenage girl and the father who abandoned her. In addition, we have never before seen a film from the perspective of a Mumbai street girl, which is why I wrote JAYA.”

JAYA was a Semi-finalist in the Student Academy Awards and a Jury Award Winner at the Directors Guild of America Student Awards. Puja Maewal’s feature screenplay of JAYA was also selected for the Writers Guild of America’s Feature Access program and Film Independent’s Screenwriting Lab.