Hrithik Roshan-starrer Kaabil which released last week has received favourable reviews from the critics and fans alike. Directed by Sanjay Gupta, the thriller has Hrithik playing a blind man named Rohan Bhatnagar who goes out to avenge his wife’s rape. The 43-year-old actor has been hailed for his convincing performance in the film.
Bollywood films have extensively portrayed disabilities over the years. Critically acclaimed films like Black, Iqbal, and Guzaarish have won accolades for portraying physically challenged protagonists in a praiseworthy manner. But there have been films in which the makers have handled disabilities in a weird way. To simplify it, in some films a character is born with a disability or develops it due to ugly circumstances. Surprisingly, he/she recovers at the end of the story. Have you noticed it?
To put forward my point, let us take an example. Salman Khan-starrer Bajrangi Bhaijaan turned out to be a blockbuster of 2015. The film revolved around a mute Pakistani girl who is separated from her parents in India and returns home safely towards the end. Throughout the film, Shahida or Munni used to raise her hand in agreement. However, what surprised me was the manner in which she regains her voice towards the end of his film exactly when Pawan (Salman) is on his way back to India via Narowal check post. Just see this sequence:
If you are still pondering over how Munni got cured and eventually dismiss Bajrangi Bhaijaan as a typical Salman Khan film, wait. Two decades ago, Shah Rukh Khan played a mute called Shankar in Rakesh Roshan’s Koyla. Remember? The film had a song Ghungte Me Chanda Hai on which you dance at every family function. Shankar loses his voice after King Raja mutes him with burning coal. He later falls in love with Gauri (Madhuri Dixit), much to the ire of his master King Raja. The couple flees from the clutches of the landlord but gets caught by Raja’s men. Raja’s henchmen beat up Shankar and slit his throat, abandoning him to die. But, the hero is a hero after all. He is saved by villagers and treated. And bingo! We know what you are anticipating. Shankar not only speaks but growls and ends up killing the Raja.
Okay. Let’s take another example. You must have seen this film Amar Akbar Anthony which was a superhit film in 1977. A typical Manmohan Desai directorial venture, the film about three brothers separated by birth was not without its share of miraculous twists. Similarly, the three brothers played by Vinod Khanna (Amar), Rishi Kapoor (Akbar) and Amitabh Bachchan (Anthony) had a mother played by none other than iconic Nirupa Roy, who was blind in the film. So, Akbar organises a prayer at Sai Baba temple on the occasion of Diwali. Co-incidentally, our very own Maa hears him sing a devotional song and rushes towards the temple. Sai Baba hears Akbar’s prayers and his on-screen mother regains her eyesight. You can relive the emotional moment here as well.
These are the three best examples I could recall at this moment. But have you wondered why it happens in our Bollywood films? Well, it has a lot to do with our Indian audience’s obsession with a happy ending in the film. So, someone like Nutan loses her voice in shock on seeing her sons being murdered in Karma only to be regained towards the end. Or Rajesh Khanna loses his memory in Mere Jeevan Saathi and remembers everything at the end of the film. An average cinema-goer is occupied with so many problems in professional and personal life. That he/she wants to enjoy the two-three odd hours at a cinema hall and go home happily. To sum up, listen to this:
So, is there any reason which you believe forces our directors to portray disabilities in our films like this?