Paul John, Times News Network, Vadodra; June 1, 2005
In a soon-to-be-produced Gujarati film, the first of its kind in Gollywood, visually impaired experts will produce, act and sing in what is their very "own film".
Papan ni Pehli Paar will feature actors, a scriptwriter, lyricists, singers, music directors, actors and actresses who are visually impaired. The only exception is the production team— the director, technicians and the cameraman—who have normal vision. The crew would also consist of physically challenged, mentally challenged and hearing and speech impaired people.
"It is not a typical 'film for the disabled', but a mainstream cinema subtly structured to educate the masses about issues involving disabled people and drive home the message that they do not need anybody’s sympathy," says director and screenplay writer Kanti Prajapati.
"Physically disabled actors have been cast deliberately to focus on how they overcome this and perform daily chores. A character in this movie, for instance, does not have hands but can cook, paint and write with his feet," adds Prajapati.
An ambitious project by the Bhuj-based rehabilitation centre, Navchetan Andh Jan Mandal, the film is based on the travails of an educated visually impaired man who finds it hard to get a job.
The film depicts the apathy of the government, especially the social welfare department, towards persons with disability and how the 3% reservation rule, mandatory under the Disability Act, is being openly flouted across the country in government institutions.
The storyline also focuses on the difficulties a visually impaired man faces in his society – the protagonist is up against odds when he falls in love with a girl with normal vision and wishes to marry her. It also touches on important issues such as designing disabled-friendly buildings and roads.