Onscreen portrayals of disabled people changing for the better, say filmmakers
Cinema is a medium to reach out to a large audience. Even today, most film-makers, while portraying disabilities on-screen, fail to show them in the right way. But film-makers say that a change is happening for the good. More people from the industry are being sensitized and are being aware of disabilities. NewzHook takes a look at what film-makers and members from the disabled community have to say about this.
Cinema is one of the most powerful mediums of the this century. Apart from an entertainment aspect, a lot of film-makers have used cinema as a medium to pass on social messages as well. In India, cinema is in the blood of every person. That is why actors are often given a Semi-God stature. The release of most movies are a celebration at Indian theatres even today.
But when it comes to portraying disabilities in a sensitized manner, Indian cinema has a long way to go. Experts point out that things are changing for the good. More film-makers are becoming sensitized about disabilities. In years to come, disabilities are going to be portrayed on-screen in a sensitive and sensitized manner is what experts from the industry say.
Representing disability in Indian cinema
Bollywood is undoubtedly an industry that rules Indian cinema. But there are numerous regional movies made that focuses on disabled characters.
Some Bollywood movies made in the last decade like Housefull 3, Mujhse Shaadi Karoge, Golmal Series and Krazzy 4 received a lot of flak for showing disabled characters in a negative light. Similar movies exist in regional languages of the North and South Indian cinema industries.
Most of the times, a disabled character is portrayed as a comedian on-screen. Sometimes, they become the villain. In fact, the comic or negative interlude does not go well with members of the disabled community. Realising this, film-makers are open to change.
Vivek Harshan, who predominantly works in South Indian cinema, is a national-award winner and editor. Vivek, who has worked in the industry for over a decade believes that the change is here.
Earlier too, we had sensible movies like Moondram Pirai which was later re-made into Hindi as Sadma. I feel all this is completely up to the film-maker and his knowledge and awareness about disabilities. But more film-makers are coming forward to make movies focused on disabled characters. For instance, the lead protagonist in last year’s award winning movie ‘Peranbu’ was a young girl with cerebral palsy. The actor did a remarkable job and so did the makers of the movie. – Vivek Harshan, Actor
Remember Aamir Khan starrer Taare Zameen Par? This was one of the first films that showed the emotional turmoil that a child with dyslexia goes through. The movie received a lot of applause for the splendid performances of actors and sensible film-making.
People from the disabled community points out that disabilities must be shown in a positive light rather than being portrayed as a punishment. Instead of reinforcing the existing stereotypes, film makers must be open to change. Cinema is indeed a great medium to discuss and create awareness about disabilities.
Nithin Renji Panikkar is a Malayalam film-maker who’s last movie ‘Kasaba’ starring superstar Mammootty was a hit at the box office. Nithin feels that film-makers must get a detailed insight of a disability before portraying it on-screen. “Most of the directors and script-writers are unaware of what a disability is. That is clearly shown in their movies too. Before portraying a disabled character on-screen, they must thoroughly know what that disability is all about. Cinema is a powerful medium. It can be used to create awareness about disabilities”, says Nithin.
Salesh Deepak, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, is a film reviewer. “A disabled person is either shown as an achiever or someone who deserves sympathies. They are not seen as normal human beings. Most of the film-makers fail to portray the real situation on-screen. But movies like ‘Bangalore Days’ and ‘Peranbu’ show it in the right way. It is high-time that film-makers become more sensitized”, says Salesh.