art & culture

8 offbeat Bollywood films that depict disability with great sensitivity

Shalmali Prakash
25th Nov 2017
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While we are used to Bollywood casting people with disabilities in poor light, there are some films that stand out for their compassionate and realistic portrayal of disabled people.

More often than not, Bollywood fails to capture the life of a specially-abled person in its true sense. Many movies end up portraying ‘disability’ either in a stereotypical manner or use them for comic relief.

However, there are a few Bollywood films that have not only managed to capture their life realistically but also changed the perspective of the audience towards the disabled in a positive manner. Here is a list of 10 movies that have successfully brought this out.

1. Sparsh

In this movie, Naseeruddin Shah portrays a blind school’s principal who is suffering from visual impairment, and Shabana Azmi takes on the role of one of the school teachers. The movie explores the lives and emotions of the students in the school. With the two characters falling in love with each other, the insecurities and complexities of a blind person is brought out beautifully.

2. Koshish

This movie directed by Gulzar stars Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bachchan as a deaf and mute couple. Koshish effectively portrays the hardships a person with disability has to endure while living amidst a desensitised society. The movie won Sanjeev Kumar a national award.

3. Sadma

Considered as one of the finest performances of Sridevi, the movie also stars Kamal Haasan. The film, directed by Balu Mahendra, shows a young woman whose mind regresses to that of a six-year-old’s after sustaining a head injury in a car accident. Unfortunately, she gets trapped in a brothel and is rescued by a lonely teacher played by Kamal Haasan.

4. Iqbal

Directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, this movie shows a deaf and mute boy played by Shreyas Talpade embark a journey to become a cricketer in the Indian team. Along his journey, he meets a retired alcoholic cricketer played by Naseeruddin Shah who helps him achieve his goal. Despite the many obstacles Iqbal faces, he fulfils his dream giving a ray of hope to many.

5. Black

Inspired by Hellen Keller’s struggles and life, Black showed the relationship of a blind, deaf and mute girl, played by Rani Mukherjee, with her mentor, portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, this movie bagged national awards for best actor and best feature film.

6. Taare Zameen Par

Acting as an eye-opener, this film made many aware and take notice of an eight-year-old boy who suffers from dyslexia but is unfortunately considered to be just lazy. Initially rejected by all, this boy, portrayed by Darsheel Safary, meets a passionate art teacher in his new boarding school. Played by Aamir Khan, the teacher shows compassion towards the boy and begins understanding the real reason behind his problem. The beautiful depiction of how this teacher works closely with the lost boy to help him won the hearts of many.

7. Barfi

Directed by Anurag Basu, this movie depicts the relationship of a deaf and mute boy, played by Ranbir Kapoor, with two women. One of the women, portrayed by Priyanka Chopra, suffers from autism. Though light-hearted, this movie never compromised on the sensitivity a movie on this subject requires.

8. Margarita with a Straw

Made by Shonali Bose, this movie sees Kalki Koechlin take up the role of a teenager afflicted by cerebral palsy. The movie shows the journey of this women to discover herself, and was also applauded for exploring the sexual desires of a specially-abled person.


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