Bollywood is a wide platform which is significantly responsible for affecting the society in positive or negative way. When we see our superstars on silver screen, we appreciate their good looks, their characteristics, or if we say correctly, the good traits of the character they portray, we get influenced, thus we gradually idolize them.
So whatever we see our actors doing, we appreciate it as good. The lessons the movie give; we try to learn from them.
The grandeur of the screenplay in Bollywood generally attracts our senses, and affects us psychologically, such that we are forced to believe the ideologies shown in the movies.
So it is important for filmmakers to realize that they have a strong duty and role towards society and take special caution in what they are preaching or promoting.
Fortunately, filmmakers these days are involving their intellect in making such beautiful realistic cinema, which not only entertains us and gives us 3 hour’s relief and self-time with our stars, but also addresses serious social and psychological issues, which can modify our attitude towards various beliefs.
One such factor is celebrating physical or mental disability on screen.
In the recent years there have been several movies which are inspiring and rejuvenating and have changed our mind set towards physical challenges and people with special abilities.
Films like Barfi, Taare Zameen Par, Black, Guzaarish and Magharitta with a Straw (shows autism)have not only been successes at the box-office, but they have contributed positively, in changing the social attitude towards specially-abled people.
Barfi (2012) brought a fresh air of new romance on screen with the unusual love saga of a deaf and mute boy Barfi and an autistic Bengali girl Jhilmil, who never grew up. The film doesn’t mock the abilities of these characters by showing any kind of sympathy, infact, their typical characteristics have been used to derive humour which is good for mental health. We find how Barfi uses his body language to amuse people, and how his caricatures manage to make a normal girl Shruti fall in love with him. Later Jhilmil falls in love with Barfi, due to her emotional dependency on him, and by looking at it we know, that they are also humans, they have the same emotions, they may not be able to think as fast as we do, but they breathe the same air, they feel the same instincts. They have the right to love and be loved. Especially, when our young heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor plays the role of the deaf boy, the character no longer remains unacceptable even to the most orthodox people, who believe disability is a crime. Instead we develop a special awareness for the particular issue and learn how to take care if we ever meet a person like them.
Acting has immense power. With its strength and intensity, one can make you believe ought as not, and not as ought. And it is good, that the scope of cinema has changed. It has moved out of family dramas, and is trying to create something which will entertain as well as give food for thought.
Guzaarish (2010) depicts the life of a wonder magician, who is finally bound by a wheelchair due to an accident in one of his shows, and hence files a petition at the court so that he can be allowed to end his life. What is significant is that, even after this unfortunate setback, he lives with a royal spirit, his voice dictates like a King to his governess. His musical sense doesn’t fall anyway behind Mozart, and he continues to enjoy life with positivity as long as he is living. When it comes to death, there also he wants to rule, he wants to be the decider for death, rather than succumbing to a suffering fate.
Hrithik Roshan becomes an ecstatic figure which recreates the notions of love and life.
We cannot deny, that one of the reasons why these movies turn out to be successful is because, it manages to draw the sympathy of common audience, who love their stars, and when they find that he is a disable character on screen, positive sympathy and congeniality automatically generates in the vision, and we start loving the character more, and consequentially end up appreciating the film, and its concept.
But there is no harm if the USP of stars can be utilized to promote something valuable for human beings. Such a form of sympathy is good, if it can infuse an awareness about physical and mental challenges.
In Taare Zameen Par (2007), Amir Khan identifies the special learning abilities of Ishaan, as Nikumbh Sir, and treats him differently, while others in his school generally coax him and punish him, because of his inability to accustom to regular curriculum (he suffered from Dyslexia). This in turn, is a lesson for all teachers, that they should not measure every child under same parameters. Each child is different and has different abilities, it is the duty of the teacher to identify them, and give special care if required, for growth and development of the child.
No longer, failing in maths is a taboo or stigma in high schools, thank God! Or thanks to Amir.
U me Aur Hum (2008) broadly highlights the issues of a significant mental disability, and the consequences that one might have to face, if he or she is suffering from Alzeimer’s disease. Yet Piya’s husband Ajay is the strength and backbone, who loves his wife so much, that inspite of her drowning their child into the tub, he understands, he supports his wife till the end, and whenever she forgets, he uses a unique way to remind her of their relationship, which is really interesting and inspiring.
Not only couples, but society in general understands that people with special abilities, need understanding, patience, love and special care. You cannot stigmatize them, or throw them away from your family, they are not responsible for what they are, they want to win over their shortcomings which is only possible when we support.
Also box-office smashers like Lagaan has portrayed disability in new light. Kachra, who suffers from polio since childhood uses his disability of left arm as a strength to become a fantastic spin bowler, and no one from the opponent team can ever anticipate, how he is going to spin the ball. His disability finally makes the village win the cricket match against the British.
In this way, Bollywood naturally plays a major role in converting the ideas of the general mass, persuading them to believe what going on the screen.
Entertainment and media are always game changers, as long as opinion forming is concerned in an educated society, and Bollywood is probably the largest, the highest viewed industry all across the world. Its audience ranges from India, to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kuwait and also United States of America.
So Hindi films tend to change not only clichés in Indian society but also abroad through their intellectual ideas and concepts on human needs and abilities.