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Meet the men who are bringing Indian Sign Language alive through the world of cinema


Today is the International Day of Sign Languages. It is celebrated across the world on 23 September every year.

Starting today, Newz Hook presents a series of stories on people and initiatives that are highlighting the power of Indian Sign Language.

In the history of world cinema, 2017 will stand out as a banner year for giving deaf performers and sign language a platform in mainstream films. Films like Baby Driver, Wonderstruck, and The Shape of Water made 2017 one of the most visible years for deaf actors and sign language in cinema.

Back home in India, two deaf film-makers Rajesh Kulkarni and Hemang Somaiyya have been a part of this landmark moment as well. Their banner, RH Films is bringing Indian Sign Language to life in cinema.

Their movies are silent, with actors using sign language to communicate. And it has been getting some rave reviews. Many of their films have won awards and widespread appreciation.

What makes this recognition special is that it is not coming from deaf audiences alone.

Our movies are an effort to create entertaining content for deaf people and we will continue to make interesting movies as we are getting a very good response. - Hemang Somaiyya, Editor, RH Films.

What makes their films unique is that they are exploring their creative sides by making films on different topics and genres. At the same time there is an attempt to make them inclusive.

"Usually movies are not fun for deaf people. So while reaching out to them through sign language, we also make sure our films have captions so they can be enjoyed by hearing audiences as well", says Rajesh Kulkarni, Director RH Films

Somaiyya's skills lie in using 3D animation and special effects, and he uses them to good effect. The films these two young men are making offer an insight into the lives of people with hearing disabilities. They also have a message for audience to take away.

Their mission is to make the banner known for movies that are entertaining as and informative.They believe that making films in sign language will help promote awareness and curiosity about it's beauty and power.

"Our movies are helping create curiosity in people about sign language and we are determined to continue to promote the use of sign language as a means of communication", adds Kulkarni.

Read the other stories in our series on the power of Indian Sign Language:

A show that brings alive the beauty & power of sign language in the form of dance



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