Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Films On Cerebral Palsy

Some years ago, I had met Malini at the bookstore. I was more fascinated by her independence specially when she communicated using her ipad with a voice. She seemed quite intelligent although she had difficulty in controlling her stiff limbs.

Malini suffers from cerebral palsy characterized by an abnormal muscle tone, reflexes or motor development and coordination. The classical symptoms are spasms, other involuntary movements (eg. Facial gestures), unsteady gait, problems with balance. The body refuses to obey the mind and it is difficult to even reach for a drink without spilling it.

The new Bollywood film ‘Margarita with a Straw’ is inspired by Malini but focuses more on the intelligence and the emotions of a teenager.

Kalki who plays the wheelchair bound spastic person, has done a brilliant acting of living in a trapped body, dealing with her sexual urges through masturbation, love affairs and disappointments.

I was however surprised to see the reaction of people who saw the film. There was certain kind of discomfort and embarrassment, as if handicap people are not supposed to have such emotions. I am not sure if handicap people are too sex starved that they will indulge with every person (man or woman) who shows affection to them,(the impression that some people get while watching this film) but even if they do, it cannot be used as yardstick for judging other handicapped people.

Many films have been made on spastic people.

In 2012 Spandan, a Marathi film with English sub titles by Vegitha Reddy and Aman Tripathi, focuses on the frustration of parents of spastic child, who have to deal with the stigma associated with this condition.

In 1989,  My Left Foot, a drama film by Jim Sheridan tells the real life story of Christy Brown, an Irishman born with cerebral palsy, who could control only his left foot. He grew up in poor working class family but became a writer and painter.

1972, documentary film Goodbye CP by Kazoa Hara is another heart wrenching film on CP that makes you hate God for creating so much suffering. It focuses on how these people are ignored and disregarded in Japan. In one part of the film, the other men in the group tell about how and when they first had sex and what problem having CP has played in their lives.

From time to time, films are made on Special Persons who are differently abled to bring home the awareness that such problems exists and compassion is necessary to help them live as normal as possible without making too much fuss about it.

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