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Resource id #4 ‘Black’ throws light on disability - Volume 3 Issue 4: Disability News and Information Service for India

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Volume 3 Issue 4 - February 15, 2005

‘Black’ throws light on disability

DNIS News Network – Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s latest film ‘Black’ is a sensitive portrayal of a girl with multiple disabilities. The film has received enthusiastic reviews from viewers across the country.

A promotional poster of the film 'Black'.‘Black’ is the talk of the the town, with several newspapers giving it headline status in their weekend supplements.

The movie is a story of a deaf, blind girl, played by Bollywood heart-throb Rani Mukherjee, who struggles to lead a normal life. Her teacher, ably played by Amitabh Bachchan, helps her discover the world through the language of touch by inscribing alphabets on her palm. The tables are turned when he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Then it is the student who turns teacher and helps him find normalcy.

The relationship is reminiscent of Helen Keller and her amazing teacher Anne Sullivan who used similar techniques to educate Helen Keller. As Helen Keller recounts an incident, “We walked down the path to the well-house, attracted by the fragrance of the honey-suckle with which it was covered. Someone was drawing water and my teacher placed my hand under the spout. As the cool stream gushed over one hand she spelled into the other the word water, first slowly, then rapidly. I stood still, my whole attention fixed upon the motions of her fingers. Suddenly I felt a misty consciousness as of something forgotten, a thrill of returning thought, and somehow the mystery of language was revealed to me.”

The Helen Keller connection doesn’t end there. The actors were trained for six months at the Helen Keller Institute in Mumbai. “The institute was an eye opener. I got to know that for such physically challenged people, the palm of their hands is the only reference point on which sign language is taught,” says Amitabh Bachchan. Speaking about her training Rani Mukherjee says “For me, apart from the training, a keen observation of how such girls talk, eat, drink and do things when they are alone helped me live the role.” Rani also taught herself to read Braille within six months

Priya-Ann Gonsalves, a teacher at the Institute likes the fact that the heroine has been portrayed as a productive person. “That is a message we always try to get across,” she says.

Both actors feel at this point in time that this film has been the most challenging role they have played. “There is not a single scene in Black that I have done before,” says Amitabh Bachchan. He feels that “this film and Sanjay will take Indian cinema several notches higher.”

Allow us to say then, Mr Bachchan, that recognition of persons with disability and their talents will take India several notches higher still.

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