Will Kaabil change the way disability is portrayed in Bollywood?
Kaabil, which will see Hrithik Roshan playing a blind mimicry artist, might just change the caricaturish depiction of the disabled in Bollywood.
Hrithik Roshan is all set to play a visually impaired character in Sanjay Gupta's Kaabil, the teaser of which released this morning.
Hrithik's next looks like the latest in a line of films to sensitively deal with the issue of disability. This is a refreshing change from Bollywood's earlier trend when disabilities were a source of humor in films. Remember Tusshar Kapoor's character in the Golmaal series? Tusshar played a mute guy in the successful trilogy, often the butt of jokes like "Tera speaker phata hua hai."
Hrithik, who has himself successfully battled stammering, spoke about this disturbing trend in an interview to The Independent, "In the greed of entertainment, we use people's disabilities to garner a cheap laugh, which is completely wrong."
And the Guzaarish actor is not wrong. Take a look at Housefull 3, abundantly laced with such humor, where the three leading men fake their disabilities. A 'blind' Riteish says, "Love is blind, but in my case, the lover is blind."
However, in the last decade, films like Black, Barfi!, My Name is Khan, Guzaarish, Paa and Taare Zameen Par are slowly changing the trend. These films treat disability with the right mix of compassion and sensitivity and are doing their bit to change society's perception of disabled people. For instance, Taare Zameen Par created awareness about dyslexia, and the film's release even made the CBSE chairman declare that the board would stress on encouraging creativity among students rather than burdening them with homework.
Even though disabled people are still defined by their disability in these films, which usually depict their trials and tribulations or victory against all odds, it's a vast improvement over the caricaturish treatment. Films like Margarita With A Straw, where Kalki plays a regular teenager leaving apart her impaired motor skills, are trying to change that.
Let's hope Kaabil is able to usher in a change in the portrayal of disability in Bollywood.