CINEMA; A MOVEMENT DEPICTING PEOPLE WITH CHALLENGES

India Today Media Institute

written by: Karan Yadav

I’m beautiful in my way, cuz God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track, baby cuz I was born this way.” – (Born this way), Lady Gaga 

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It is totally correct when we say that films are reflection of our society, and this is truly depicted when we see movies like I am Sam, Bill on his own, Bonds of love, I never promised you a rose garden, the kid from nowhere, Tare Zameen Par, Margarita with a straw etc.  When we talk about intellectual and developmental challenged people, many people believe that people with these challenges are not capable to function within the different aspects of our society; whether being physical or emotional. They cannot handle challenges of daily life; different emotions and are not able to contribute equally, and these misconceptions have built a stronghold of stereotype on the minds of members of the modern world, us. However with cinema as a tool for entertainment, many people have tried and succeeded in changing these misconceptions and have tried to show the true reality of people with challenges (PWC). They have tried to destroy the illusions that our mundane world lived in, have tried to pop the bubble and make them see the real beauty of people with challenges (PWC) and how with only small efforts from us, people with challenges (PWC) are not at all different rather they are same as others.

 

I AM SAM, an American film released in 2001, showcased the story of Sam, a single father with intellectual disability, who wants to raise his daughter all alone after the mother of the child abandoned them. With emotions as the prime tool taken by the director, the movie goes through different phases of Sam (father) and Lucy (daughter) lives. How Lucy is sent to foster home, while Sam tries to fight the court. The movies show that even with Sam’s brain’s capability of a 7-year-old child, he can still take care of Lucy and can play the role of an independent and caring father. With all the twists and turns, in the end, Sam won the custody and he lived with his daughter.  The movie showed that how, with people disagreeing with Sam being a father, he won the hearts of all with the help of support system and proved that he can also be a part of the society as normally as others. The movie went to won many awards and opened the eyes of many people.

 

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BILL ON HIS OWN, “Why do you want to learn?” when the teacher asked Bill (60 years old) he simply said, “Because if I learn, then I’ll be a regular good man.” The classic Hollywood comedy ‘Bill on his own’ (1983) is a story about a 60 years old man, Bill, who is an intellectually challenged man and wishes to live freely in the society like everyone. For the many years of his life, he lived in closed surroundings and when he stepped outside he was mesmerized by how beautiful the open world was. With the desire to learn and live independently, Bill started his journey with many challenges and new friends. And in this journey, he came face to face with people who really cared and loved him. The movie was met with positive reviews as it was capable to grab the attention of many viewers which helped in changing the perception they had earlier.

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THE KID FROM NOWHERE is a TV movie, which came out in 1982, portrays a story of a single mother who is overprotective for her intellectually challenged son, which makes him angry and difficult as she denied him the social life. The movie showed the struggle which a family goes through every day. However, things started to change when the boy gained self-esteem while training for Special Olympics and his mother learned to let go. The story beautifully travelled from her fearing what the society says to her being proud of her son. Receiving positive reaction from the audience, the film poured light on two very important aspects, first being the struggle and second being Special Olympics.

 

TAARE ZAMEEN PAR, Amir Khan directed and acted, 2007 Indian comedy-drama, is a movie which revolves around Ishaan, played by Darsheel, an 8-year-old dyslexic child. With excel in arts; Ishaan had poor grades in his academics which led his parents sending him to a boarding school. Ishaan’s new art teacher, a role played by Amir Khan, suspects that Ishaan has dyslexia and he helps him overcome the disability. A mixture of emotions the story travelled through different phases of Ishaan’s life, from his parents being against him to being accepting the true self of him. The movie got universal praise from the critics and went on being one of the top movies of 2007. The movie made a huge impact on people’s assumption on dyslexia and changed their thinking about it.

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Margarita with a straw is a 2014 Bollywood movie which revolves around Laila (Kalki Koechlin) with Cerebral Palsy. The colourful story of Laila portrayed the struggles faced by people with cerebral Palsy but also showed how to be happy with all the difficulties. Each step, each turn showed the difficulties in her life but also showed how positively she overcame them. The movie received universal appraisal from critics all over the globe and won many awards. The movie also tried to show the struggle and the overcoming power the individual has and how they are same as others living in the society.

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Image Courtesy – Hindustan Times

With the above-mentioned movies, we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. In times where people are joining hands and coming together to walk the line of equality, movies like these take steps towards the equality for people with challenges. Every movie mentioned above shows different struggles and difficulties, people with challenges go throughout their lives and how many times societies, in which they live, became a nightmare for them. These movies represent the fight these warriors go through every day just to get adjusted and accepted in the society.  With emotions playing the main strategy to win the hearts of people and to open the window of their mind, cinema is doing a pretty amazing job in making a change. What NGOs, doctors and support group was not able to do, Hollywood and Bollywood did it. A medium so strong, it leaves an impression on the lives of mundane forever. Right direction, right meaning and it hits the targeted point and moves forward, ending the misconception and making the lives of people with challenges (PWC) a little easy. So let us take a pledge and move towards the fight to end the stereotyped conception of people with challenges (PWC) which have been resided in the minds of members of society, us, for a lifetime; give a hand of support to people with challenges (PWC) and take them together towards the movement of equality, so that they can also live the life everyone desire to live and can work and contribute equally towards the society. Remember even though People with Challenges (PWC) are not same as others but they are not different from others.

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Image Courtesy – Hindi Movies

Don’t hide yourself in regret, just love yourself and you’re set on the right on the right way, cuz you were born to be brave and you are born this way.” –  (Born This Way), Lady Gaga 

Published by: Shubrikha B. Satyawakta

About the author: Karan Yadav is a trainee journalist in India Today Media Institute


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