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‘Kaduva’ Row: Films That Sensitively Narrated Stories About Disabilities

From Sparsh to Margarita With a Straw, here are films that got the representation of disabled persons right.

Published
South Cinema
3 min read
‘Kaduva’ Row: Films That Sensitively Narrated Stories About Disabilities
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Prithviraj Sukumaran's Kaduva received a fair amount of criticism for being "insensitive" towards disabled children. Director Shaji Kailas and the actor took to social media to apologise and admitted it was a "mistake". They reiterated that it wasn't intentional and requested to be forgiven.

Over years, Indian cinema has portrayed disabled characters as largely pitiful. But amidst the films that misrepresented them, here’s a look at five films that got the depiction of people with disabilities right.

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Margarita With a Straw (2014)

A still from Margarita With a Straw.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

The story revolves around the Laila (Kalki Koechlin), a teenage girl with cerebral palsy, who leaves India to study in New York. As she discovers herself along this journey, Laila falls in love unexpectedly.

The film’s director Shonali Bose renders a refreshing portrayal of a person with disability instead of taking the usual route to garner sympathy for Laila.

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Taare Zameen Par (2007)

A still from Taare Zameen Par.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

The Aamir Khan-starrer delves into the life of a child, Ishaan (Darsheel Safary), who is diagnosed with dyslexia and struggles to cope with an unforgiving education system.

Taare Zameen Par addresses the rat race that kids are forced to participate in and the parental pressure on them to meet unrealistic expectations. The film played an important role in helping parents understand their children better.

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Mozhi (2007)

A still from Mozhi.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter)

The critically-acclaimed Tamil film deals with the love story of a speech hearing impaired girl. It was groundbreaking when it released, as the musical romantic-comedy sensitively portrayed the romantic life of a person with disability. One of the songs where Karthik (Prithviraj) uses sign language to communicate with Archana (Jyotika) is one of the most sensitive representations of someone seeking apology from a lover.

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Peranbu (2019)

A still from Peranbu

Photo courtesy: Twitter

This film, directed by Ram, focuses on the complex bond between a father (Mammootty) and his autistic daughter (Sadhana). Peranbu is one of the few films which sensitively portrays the sexual desires of people with disabilities. The film explores the fragility, strength, prejudices and empathy of a relationship. The silent moments add more depth to the movie.

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Sparsh (1980)

A still from Sparsh (1980)

Photo courtesy: Twitter

The Sai Paranjape directorial portrays the life of a visually-impaired school principal, who falls in love with a teacher, who is battling his own insecurities. Sparsh delves deep into the complexities of relationships. Nuanced performances by Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi elevated the story. Reports also stated that after the movie's release, funding for the Blind Relief Association increased considerably, which led to discussions around the disability movement in the 1980s.

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