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Everyone has a right to dream, whether abled
or differently abled. Iqbal (2005) of Nagesh Kukunoor asserts the victory of such
undying spirit. The dumb boy, Iqbal aspires to be a bowler in the Indian
Cricket Team. He suffers discrimination but triumphs over all odds
is a major concern of our society. The Governmental and Non-Governmental sectors
have been making efforts to
fight it but it still remains a big challenge.
We often hear about the pervasive presence of disability among people through
the media which is an important source to cultivate right attitude
towards disability and create awareness about it among people. Film is surely a
very important medium towards this end. It would be interesting and pertinent
to know as to how disability gets portrayed in cinema. This becomes all the more
important because of the at large wide ranging impact of cinema on the society
mythology and puranas also do contain examples of differently-abled individuals
like Dhritrashtra, Manthara, Ashtaavakra etc. Disability
can be either inborn or a consequence of some unfortunate incident in life such
as disease or accident. Films too have given space to representation of disability
in various artistic forms.
recently a film by Anurag Basu
released. It also became
the official entry of India for
Oscars. The protagonist Ranbeer Kapur playing a deaf and dumb man is
simultaneously attracted to two girls, one of them being a physically
challenged girl. The boy,
Barfi, prefers the physically challenged
girl over the other one. But, why ? It’s indeed a thought provoking question.
Priyanka Chopra was much admired for her role as a mentally challenged girl,
world apart from the glitter and
glamour. It is significant that when
a star of Bollywood plays such a character he is thought of displaying an
exemplary courage for an artist. For instance, Sanjeev Kumar was much
appreciated for playing the disabled in the legendary film Sholayalthough as we do know that his disability
was incidental rather than being from birth. Likewise in the film Koi Mil
Gaya (2003) Hrithik Roshan played
a mentally challenged whose mental age was that of a eight year child although
his biological age was twenty years. This movie was meant for the children and
carried little social message yet, it proved that skilful use of creativity can
make for a commercial hit as well.
Oscar winning movie The King’s Speechis a classic example
of a beautiful portrayal of disability. The protagonist, the king stammers and
becomes a victim of the jibes of his family. He gradually loses his confidence and finds it a mammoth
challenge to speak from public
platforms. The care and concern of his wife and the acumen of his trainer
revives his confidence and
ultimately he succeeds
in delivering his speech.
similar problem was portrayed in the movie My Name Is Khan. Mani
Ratnam’s movie Anjali and Mai Aisa Hee Hoonreveal
the loneliness of those who have been forced to the periphery. The father in Anjaliconceals the inborn disability of his daughter from his wife to spare his
wife from a possible ordeal. The remake of I Am Samby the
name Mai Aisa Hee Hoonbecame a huge success.
cinema has perhaps the largest
audience in the worldand
it also claims to reflect the society.
Deepika Padukone in the 2009 movie Lafangey Parindeyplays
the character of a dancer who loses her eyes prior to an important competition.
The sight disabled girl loses confidence
in her abilities but the
hero Neel Nitin Mukesh trains her in such a manner that she regains her
enthusiasm and confidence.
The movie strongly conveys
the message that no success is too high for the disabled to achieve.
Leela Bhansali, the acclaimed Director, has used the medium of cinema to
present this subject in an aesthetic manner. In Khamoshii(1996)
the protagonist is deaf and dumb. Nana Patekar and Seema Biswas have played the
touching role of a couple. Sign Language used in the movie becomes all the more
expressive in the context of deep sensitivities of the disabled people. While
and Biswas are explicit about their disgust for music their daughter, on the
contrary, is all about music. In a very touching scene the film shows the physically challenged being subjected to insult.
Another such movie dwelling on this subject is Black (2005) in
which the protagonist, Rani Mukherjee is deaf, dumb and blind. She gives voice
to the deep void and the resounding silence of a deaf, dumb and blind person
who becomes violent in the absence of a meaningful outlet for her feelings.Later on she meets one Debraj Sahay who helps
her out of the dark abyss. The third such movie was Guzarish (2010)
which dwelt on the extremely sensitive issue of euthanasia through the story of
the protagonist Hrithik Roshan suffering from quadriplegia that renders him virtually
dead, a total invalid.
has a right to dream, whether abled or differently abled. Iqbal(2005) of Nagesh Kukunoor asserts the victory of such undying spirit. The
dumb boy, Iqbal aspires to be a bowler in the Indian Cricket Team. He suffers
discrimination but triumphs over all odds under the able guidance of his coach Naseeruddin
Shah to realize his dream. The best thing about the movie is that it does not
view disability with pity or sympathy rather it views it as a challenge which
leads to victory if faced bravely. One can hardly forget a similar character of
Lagaan who makes a valuable contribution in the ultimate victory
surmounting formidable challenges. But there are other movies that portray disability in a superficial or even derogatory manner in an attempt to create
slapstick humour. Kader Khan’s Mujhse Shaadi Karogi is one such example
which incites base humour at the expense of the debilitating disabilities of differently
Zameen Par (2007)
is a child centric movie but devoid of the fantasy element of Koi Mil
Gaya. It is a sensitive movie based on deep insight into the grim realities
of our day-to-day life. The disability that is subject matter of the movie is
not apparent or easily visible. Instead it is buried deep in human brain. The
child, Ishaan Shrivastava suffers from dyslexia that makes the reading of the alphabets a paramount difficulty. Although this makes the progress in academics difficult for the child yet his love and ability for painting makes
him unique and capable of working wonders in this particular field. But the typical parents fail to
perceive his difficulty as well as
his unique talent and consider him a dull boy and punish him by putting him in
a Boarding School.This
punishment makes a deep scar on the sensitive mind of the child. But, then
comes the Midas touch of Ramshankar Nikumb (Amir Khan) who not only fathoms the
exact nature of his problem but discovers his unique talent as well. He
gradually chisels him to bring out the best in him. This movie has a very
serious message to deliver. Education
has to be child specific and
it ought to bring out the best in the child rather than reducing him to a
much acclaimed film Pa (2009) brought the disease Progeria into
public consciousness. For a person
afflicted with this disease the
brain and the body grow at a differential rate. Amitabh Bachchan has played the
role of a boy, Auro, suffering from progeria who is loved by his cohorts and
school mates. The primary objective of
the movie is not to popularize Progeria rather than to evoke the latent love of
the father towards his child.
literature in which we do find
characters like Gandhari who wrapped
a cloth round her eyes in her attempt to completely identify with her blind
husband, Hindi Cinema depicts disability affecting the marital relationship
primarily in two ways. In movies like Pati Patni (1966), Zameen Asman
(1972), Kasauti (1974), Wakeel Babu (1983), Qatl (1986),
Waada (2006) etc. the marital relationship crumbles. However, in other films, alternatives are explored or cure for
disability is found. The climax of a 1972 movie Anurag that shows the
cornea transplant as an answer to blindness is a memorable one. The love
relationship with Vinod Mehra is sought to be redeemed in this fashion. Similar
remedies have been sought to be projected in other movies like Jheel Ke Uss Paar
(1973), Sunayna (1979), Neelkamal (1984) and Humko Tumse
Pyar Hai (2006) etc. There are numerous such movies like Saathi (1968),
Khamoshi (1969), Khilauna (1970) where cooperation and love are
shown to smoothen the relationship in the context of disability.
talking about movies dwelling upon disabilities the story would rather be
incomplete without the mention of classic movie Dosti(1964)
in which the two differently abled friends complement each other with the gift
of music which nature has bestowed upon them. Koshish (1972)
stars the inimitable Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri who are dumb but they shine
with their brilliant acting on screen. The message too was a forceful one.
Differently abled people can manage to run their lives on their own without the
aid, props and sympathy of the common lot but simultaneously the movie becomes heart
rending when it shows the deaf and dumb parents losing their child because they
were unable to hear the groans of their child. In Kinara (1977)
Gulzar once again reveals his sensitivity towards the disabled in a potent
fashion. Naseeruddin Shah in plays the role of a fiercely independent differently
abled character in Sparsh. In the same league comes Sadma(1983) with its unique climax. Kamal Hasan and Sridevi leave an indelible
impression on the viewers. The movie projects the differently abled as special children
Pranjal Dhar The author is a freelance journalist.