Love knows no borders and nothing can be more apt to exemplify this old adage than the story of portrait artist Pradyumna Kumar Mahanandia, who cycled all the way to Sweden in the late 70s to meet his lady love and future wife. Soon a film will bring on screen their epic love story. According to the two children of Pradyumna Kumar aka PK and Charlotte Von Schedvin, they wanted to immortalise the story of their parents and so decided to write the script themselves and co-produce it. "A lot of producers both and Hollywood and Europe have evinced interest in a film on my parents," says Emelie Mahanandia Von Schedvin. She and her brother Siddhartha decided not to sell any rights because doing so would result in losing control over the story. "We set a production company Kalabati Pictures (named after their grandmother) and decided to make the story true and do justice to it by producing it together with co-partners," Emelie told PTI. She and her brother have almost finished the first draft of the script and discussions are in the final phase for the collaboration. "We have been talking to several big names in Hollywood and European film industry whom we think we should collaborate with," Emelie says. PK was born into a poor, untouchable family in a small village in Odisha. Throughout his childhood he kept a palm leaf bearing an astrologer's prophecy: "You will marry a girl who is not from the village, not even from the country; she will be musical, own a jungle and be born under the sign of the ox." Incredibly, it was a prophecy that would come true, but only after the most remarkable journey that would take PK, armed with only a handful of paintbrushes and a second-hand bicycle, from the jungles of eastern India to the forests of Sweden. PK says whatever he did was with full confidence. "I had the blessings of my parents and I met wonderful people who helped me in various phases of my life. But above all, I was confident," he says. Considered an outcaste, PK had great difficulty in his initial days in Odisha and later went to Delhi to study art.
There his struggle began and he somehow managed to make a name for himself by drawing portraits at Connaught Place. Slowly, he became famous and went on to draw sketches of Indira Gandhi, Fakruddin Ali Ahmed, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, B D Jatti among others. Charlotte heard about PK and drove all the way from Sweden to have her portrait drawn. They both fell in love and got married according to tribal traditions. But soon it was time for Charlotte to leave and PK decided to stay back and join her later once he is able to establish himself. The two wrote letters for about a year. "I wanted to go but did not have money to buy air tickets. So, I decided to sell everything and embark on a journey no one had thought before," he says. PK bought a bicycle and peddled for five months through Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey to reach Europe. He also hitchhiked and travelled by train in between. Finally, he met Charlotte's parents and the two got officially married in Sweden. PK works as an adviser of art and culture under the Swedish government and is based in Boras in Sweden. A book "The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love", written by Per J Andersson and distributed in India by Pan Macmillan, also describes his journey.