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Many of our movies portray persons with disability as mentally deficient and ‘comic relief’, but a few notable films have handled these issues with great sensitivity, and find a place in this article.
Person with a disability are most likely to face discrimination from our conventional society, and the ugly face of the society becomes even more crystal clear when it comes to a woman with disability. She faces discrimination, sexual assault, harassment, you name it and it’s there.
Media, a great influencer among the general masses, has measured up with some Bollywood movies portraying disability with grace and honour.
Here are few of them.
It is a highly inspiring story of a deaf and mute couple (Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri) who have to struggle every minute of their life for even their basic needs, but they never give up. They know how to fight, and live a satisfying life instead of feeling helpless. One feels like saluting this never-say-die attitude of theirs. They even have a ‘normal’ child who also sets an example by marrying a girl just like his parents.
Michelle played by Rani Mukherjee had lost her hearing and eyesight at the age of two when her world became Black. The movie recounts her journey of getting an education a BA degree and live an independent life. There is also her teacher Debraj Singh (played by Amitabh Bachchan) who arrives in her life at a critical period when as a child, she is struggling with the complete absence of anything in her life.
A Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra starrer where Barfi (Ranbir) and Jhilmil (Priyanka) fall in love with each other. Barfi cannot hear, and Jhilmil has autism.
‘Love has no language, happiness is not dependent on money or physical ability’ was the message of the movie.
Though it was a thriller movie with shades of negativity, one part was highly inspirational about the visually impaired couple. Both were independent in their respective lives, and they earned their own living and were positive about life, until tragedy strikes.
It’s the story of Laila (played by Kalki Koechlin) who is suffering from Cerebral Palsy. Inspite of her malady, Laila is a very talented student of Delhi University, a writer, composer and a singer. Destiny brings her to New York when she wins a scholarship. Her journey from a girl to an independent woman, her shortcomings, and her honest acquiescence all is portrayed beautifully in the movie.
Sridevi playing Nehalata has retrograde amnesia after an accident and behaves just like a child. Somu played by Kamal Haasan rescues Nehalata from a brothel and starts taking care of her. Soon he falls in love with her and they share a great bonding depicted beautifully in the movie. But tragedy hits when Nehalata regains her memory only to forget the period after her accident that included Somu.
Though it’s a tragic story, it successfully depicts the profound nature of love that is beyond anything substantial.
Zooni (played by Kajol) is a blind woman in the movie who manages to live an independent life till she meets the love of her life, Rehan, who is a terrorist. The later plot is all about how Zooni manages to be a single mother of her son and she meets Rehan after years of separation. Though it’s a tragic story of sorts, the way in which Zooni manages her life both as a blind person and after she gains her vision after a surgery is commendable.
It is a 2018 Rani Mukherjee starrer movie having a strong message delivered in a humorous way. The female protagonist of the movie, Naina, suffers from Tourette syndrome in which she uncontrollably produces sounds similar to hiccups and that’s where the origin of the meaning of the title of the movie (Hichki).
Naina, a high school teacher in a reputed school is ridiculed and teased by her students for the funny sounds she makes. But, it doesn’t stop her to give her heart and soul to her noble profession of teaching. At the end, she is awarded with all the reverence she deserves.
It is a beautiful love story of a visually impaired sculptor Shivani played by Moushumi Chatterjee and Rajesh. A person who has never seen the beautiful creations of God has an astonishing quality of creating beautiful sculptures, just by touch. The love and affection between her and a young boy Chandan is beautifully portrayed. Chandan has cancer, and as a dying wish, he donates his eyes to Shivani, and she is able to see the world for the first time.
It is a story of two thickest of friends Ramu and Mohan, one who has a non-functional leg as a result of polio, and the other who is visually impaired. Both of them meet each other by chance and their journey of life begins with the peaks and valleys shared together. Both of them earn their bread and butter by singing in the streets. Ramu plays the harmonica and Mohan sings well. The movie deals with how they manage the many hurdles that they have to face.
A 2005 national award winner film starring Shreyas Talpade where he plays the role of a hearing and speech impaired boy named Iqbal. He is a displayed as a gifted bowler in the movie who makes it to the Indian Cricket team despite his disability. His journey to acquire training from a well-known former cricketer and the struggle to make a name in the cricket world is fantastically displayed in the movie.
This multiple award winning film is a marvellous depiction of the inspiring story of Ishaan, an 8-year old boy suffering from dyslexia, a learning difficulty that is because of problems with the ability to read, write, and spellings. Life becomes hell for him when he joins a boarding school, until his mentor Nikumbh Sir arrives into his life. As Nikumbh Sir himself suffered from this disorder as a child, he understands Ishaan and his problems. Slowly and steadily with various kinds of ruses used to overcome the disability, Nikumbh Sir successfully trains Ishaan to pass his school exams. Not only that, he illustrates Ishan’s special talent of as artist before the world.
Disabled persons too deserve true love instead of sympathy, irrespective of their physical challenges. This is the message of this 1980 film starring Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi. Anirudh, himself a visually challenged person, runs a school for similar people. The love of his life is Kavita, a school teacher without any disability. Anirudh is in illusion that Kavita loves him out of sympathy. Finally he acknowledges her true love for him, that is more profound than any kind of physical attachment or touch (Sparsh).
This contemporary 2016 dramatic film revolves around a boy named Dilsher who develops a habit of stammering after being dispirited post death of his father. His journey of finding himself and the true calling of his life that is singing, is portrayed remarkably in the movie.
A quadriplegic (paralysed in both arms and legs) gives a petition in court for mercy killing (permitting the deliberate death of a person out of sympathy for his pitiful health condition). Though the court rejects Ethan’s plea as it’s against the nation’s law, his family, friends and even his doctor understand his agony and pain as a quadriplegic. One of the inspiring facts about Ethan as depicted in the movie was his positive approach towards life that made him a humorous Radio Jockey enormously popular among the public.
A health condition Progeria (early aging) is manifested in this emotional-comedy film of 2009. Amitabh Bachchan plays a boy Auro suffering from Progeria who becomes the cause of re-union of his parents, played by Abhishek Bachchan and Vidya Balan. Auro’s humorous comments, a father-son relationship, a brave single mother of a disabled child – all of these is brilliantly depicted in the movie.
ShahRukh Khan plays the role of Rizwan Khan suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, which is a developmental disorder that causes inability to communicate properly, along with some repetitive behavioural patterns. After the 11th September attack in New York City, the “Khan” surname became synonymous with a terrorist. Rizwaan Khan also fell victim to it but unlike any other Khan, he decides to aver his innocence before the US President Barack Obama saying “My Name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist”.
A person with any sort of disability definitely suffers a lot but we make them suffer even more as an orthodox conventional society. What they want is our compassion instead of pity, empathy instead of antipathy, deference instead of derision. These movies have depicted this truth wonderfully well.
Images source: YouTube
I'm a post-graduate in pharmacy by education and a writer at heart. As
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