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Movies about disability that struck the right note - Newz Hook readers' choice

December 22, 2018

2018 has ended with the release of Zero, Shah Rukh Khan's latest film that is creating a buzz for placing disability firmly at the centre. Opinions about the film are divided, but we thought this was a good time to take a look at films made down the decades that have truly touched people's hearts.

This list is based on what some of our readers rated the best and why they liked them.

  • Iqbal

The story about a cricketer who pursued his dream despite his disability is motivational speaker Sai Kaustuv's personal favourite. "Most films that show disability in India have dealt with it with a tremendous amount of sympathy and pity. But in Iqbal, the main story is not about the disability, it's about a cricketer who wanted to achieve his dream but just happened to have a disability. The main characters in this films are creators of their own future; their strength overshadows their physical limitations. I have met Nagesh Kukunoor, the director of the film personally and sung "Ashayein" in front of him which has transformed my life from many sides. On conversation with him, he said, "One thing that people with a disability always tell you that, they want to treat them as normal; they don't want you to constantly keep addressing their disability." He motivated me for my happiness mission and I really salute him for gifting society such a great film.

  • Taare Zameen Par

This Aamir Khan-starrer moved many hearts. Simran Chawla, a beauty queen and actor, who watched the film again after 10 years, says it took her to a different world.

"This movie, wow! It projected such a rarely noticed disability (Dyslexia) which people often ignore and actually this disability is seems invisible. The movie projected everything so beautifully. Everything from songs to story to presentation was so touching. I'm sure this movie would have touched so many hearts and would also have aware many people. Most of the people think that if a person has a learning disability means he is mentally retarded, but this movie cleared this misconception of the people as well. The children with learning disabilities are no different from others, they just need a different way to learn. One more message that this movie gave is, everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way, everyone has their own talents. All they need is their parents' love and teachers' support to become that they want to become."

Radha Tandon, Founder-Director, Praangan Education Trust, likes this film which portrays the struggles of a child with a learning disability. "Being a special educator I feel the movie hit a cord with everyone and highlighted the learning issues faced by children."

  • Deiva Thirumagal

This popular Tamil film starring Vikram as an intellectually disabled adult was later dubbed in Telugu and Japanese. It was based on the American film, I am Sam starring Sean Penn. Akila Vaidyanathan , Founder-Director, Amaze Charitable Trust calls it a favourite. "The theme where a person with intellectual disability is portrayed as someone who can have a relationship, feelings and fight for his rights is something I liked a lot. The acting by Vikram is fantastic as well".

  • Koshish

This film from the yesteryears starring Sanjeev Kumar is Anupama Bakhshi's favourite.

As an autism mom, I have looked at projection of disability in movies and books as a heartwarming representation. More often than not, the melodrama and the mandatory romantic angles diffuse the need to sensitize and spread awareness. 'Black 'and 'Margarita with a Straw' had a strong appeal but to me the 70s movie Koshish exudes brilliance, in spite of the overpowering poignancy. We certainly have a voice more audible than it was 50 years ago. So, the depiction, true, ahead of times and powerful, is praiseworthy. Hope to see a movie depicting autism 'as it is' in the near future. And I sincerely believe, individuals with autism should be allowed to play themselves to have a true reflection! - Anupama Bakshshi, Autism parent

  • Sparsh

Starring Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi this film touched many hearts. Directed by Sai Paranjpe, Sparsh broke the stereotypes created by film and society where blind people are often presented as objects of pity. Anita Narayan Iyer, Founder, EKansh Trust remembers the small touches that made the film such a wonderful watch. "There is a scene where Shabana Azmi goes to buy a saree and her friend tells her about a certain colour which is pretty and Shabana instead chooses one according to the texture, because that would appeal to Shah, who is visually impaired. It was a film that made me look at disability from a new perspective and has always remained in my mind".

  • The Intouchables

This French comedy drama that centres around a quadriplegic is Dr Ketna Mehta, Founder, Nina Foundation's favourite film. "The treatment and projection of a quadriplegic is heartening. The movie made me feel that people with disabilities are also entitled to have a complete, wholesome life with outings and humours and desires".

  • Wheelchair

Bengali film Wheelchair has been rated highly by activist Shampa Sengupta. Directed by Tapan Sinha, the movie is about a female protagonist who becomes disabled after she is targeted in a sexual assault. "The movie which was made in 1994 was much ahead of time as it showed romantic relationship growing after the woman becomes disabled", says Sengupta.

  • Margarita with a Straw

This Kalki Koechlin starrer truly spoke for its times with a female disabled protagonist shown to have needs and desires like any other young woman. Elements that speak to VInayana Khurana, a Delhi University student and blogger. "The protagonist has cerebral palsy and I loved the film because she is just like me - a romantic woman who feels that disability is not a hindrance to her love life".

  • Avtaar

Pradeep More, deaf leader and activist likes the movie for promoting the belief that disability is not a hurdle. Avatar stars Rajesh Khanna in the role of a mechanic who loses one hand in a work related accident and is then shunned by everyone. He doesn't give up and uses his innovative ideas and skills to get back on his feet and become successful.

  • Kaabil

Santosh Salian member of BGFI- Blind Graduates' Forum of India, feels the movie starring Hrithik Roshan depicted the many challenges faced by visually impaired people in daily life. "The movie showed how the visually impaired people can lead their lives independently without anyone's assistance. The music of the movie was also nice."



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