The history of cinema has a lot of instances where the filmmakers have used this medium of ‘entertainment’ as a platform of revolutions and awareness. The French New Wave and Italian-neorealism are still considered as the best example for the same. In India, films like Do Bhiga Zamin, Pyaasa, Mother India, and Naya Daur addressed social issues.
The real challenge came in when the filmmakers started working on subjects that dealt with physical, mental or intellectual disability. However, many directors managed to portray the realistic approach without any cinematic liberty and changed the perceptions of the audiences towards the special-abled or differently-abled people.
Let’s have a look five best Indian films shedding light on the life of specially-abled individuals.
Koshish – 1972 (Director – Gulzar)
Koshish was the first film that addressed the story of a deaf and mute couple. Starring Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bachchan, the story revolves around the struggle and hardships of differently-abled people in an insensitive society. Sanjeev Kumar was honoured with a National Award for his extraordinary portrayal in the film.
Iqbal – 2005 (Director – Nagesh Kukunoor)
Starring Shreyas Talpade in the lead as a young aspiring cricketer and Naseeruddin Shah as his coach, the film revolves around the life of Iqbal (Shreyas), a deaf and mute young chap who hails from a small town and aspires to be a pace-baller make himself a place in Cricket. The film beautifully explains prejudices in such sectors and how differently-abled people are given secondary treatment.
Taare Zameen Par – 2007 (Director – Aamir Khan & Amole Gupte)
Unarguably an eye-opening film that dealt with an extremely important subject like dyslexia and changed the perspectives of many like us about the people suffering from the same. The film describes the story of Ishaan, a young eight-year-old boy who is suffering from dyslexia but the people around consider him lazy and weird until an art teacher enters his life and becomes empathetic towards him. The movie narrates how a good teacher comes to Ishaan’s life and helps him to won the hearts of others. The film stars Aamir Khan as a teacher and Darsheel Safary as Ishaan.
Margarita with a Straw – 2014 (Director – Shonali Bose)
Directed by Shonali Bose, the movie Margarita with a Straw starred talented actresses Kalki Koechlin in the lead role. A coming of age story, the movie follows the heartwarming journey of a teenager suffering from cerebral palsy. The delicacy Bose showcased every relationship, the budding friendships, and a teenager’s struggle to understand her sexuality was lauded by the worldwide audience. Having been premiered and screened in multiple film festivals, Margarita with a Straw racked in positive reviews from all corners of the world.
Ahaan – 2021 (Director – Nikhil Pherwani)
Yet to release but the film had already won the hearts of many due to its subject and the story. The film Ahaan explores the issue of Down Syndrome, an intellectual disability and shows the story of a person suffering the same. The best part about this film is that the director Nikhil Pherwani categorically chose to star Mamaji in his film, a real Down Syndrome person as he wanted to maintain authenticity and be true to character. Abuli was 36-year-old when he was locked for this film and had a fun shoot along with a seasoned cast. Ahaan is India’s first Hindi language film with a Down Syndrome person in a leading role.
Directed by Nikhil Pherwani, Ahaan, a heartwarming tale of the most unlikely of friendships stars Arif Zakaria, Niharika Singh, Plabita Borthakur, Rajit Kapur and Introduces Abuli Mamaji, a young man with Down Syndrome in the titular role. A Will Finds Way Films production, this slice of life Story by Nikhil Pherwani & Abhishek Pherwani is all set to release in theatres on 19th March 2021.