Touted as one of the most powerful channels to simultaneously reach out to a lot of people, cinema has been showing differently-abled people in various roles that normally portray helpless characters that rely heavily on others even for performing their day-to-day activities; however, that's changing slowly but surely.
A lot of filmmakers have been portraying physical or mental conditions that restrict a person's mobility in the wrong way, but they claim that things are gradually changing or the good. Filmmakers are now sensitized and are showing interest in giving more prominence to characters with disabilities in their films.
Given that cinema is one of the century's most efficient mediums, filmmakers are utilizing it not just for entertaining their audience but also to convey social messages. In countries like India, cinema is more than just a popular form of recreation for people, which explains why actors and actresses are offered Semi-God stature. Moreover, movie releases are nothing short of a celebration in the country.
On the downside, Indian cinema is nowhere close to portraying disabilities in the right way. According to experts, things have radically changed for good in the last few years as leading filmmakers are becoming more sensitive towards the portrayal of disabilities on the big screen. Industry experts suggest differently-abled characters are likely to be presented in a sensitized manner on screen over time.
While Bollywood is an industry that dominates the Indian cinema, there is a slew of other regional films created that center on characters with disabilities. Bollywood films such as Krazzy 4, the Golmal Series, Mujhse Shaadi Karoge and the recently released Housefull 3 garnered a lot of criticism for showing characters with disabilities as antiheroes. North and South Indian cinemas are spared of flaws either with films promoting the same concept.
Characters with disabilities are usually portrayed on-screen in comic roles and sometimes as villains. Neither the comic nor the negative portrayal is pleasing to the differently-abled community members. Thankfully, modern filmmakers are now realizing this and are willing to change. Editor and national-award winner Vivek Harshan who is primarily associated with the South Indian cinema says the change is happening.
Directed by Amir Khan, Taare Zameen Par showed Ishaan's emotional turmoil dealing with dyslexia. Aside from being well-thought-out, the film had splendid performances from actors. Differently-abled community members suggest physical or mental restrictions should not be portrayed as a punishment, but rather it should be shown in a positive light. It looks like the Indian cinema is finally heading in that direction.
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