A Hungarian movie that was shot in ‘namma’ Tamil Nadu — Lend me your eyes, Baltazars — also contains some Tamil dialogues. The 2017 release won the best director’s prize in the documentary film category at the Jaipur International Film Festival in 2018. With support from the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade the film has recently been dubbed in Tamil and Hindi. The spiritual depth of the people of TN is brought out to the Hungarian public as seen through the eyes of mentally challenged artistes of the Hungarian theatre. The film is focused on helping the children who are devastated by down syndrome.
According to a recently published WHO study, one in four people in the world are affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Mental disorder is among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide. In India at least 13.7 % of the population suffers from various mental disorders (National Mental Health Survey). Nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional. Stigma, discrimination and neglect prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental disorders.
The documentary depicts the journey through the state and to Vaiteeswaran Koil that lets us see faith through the filter of art and monitors how the mentally challenged artistes of the Hungarian theatre embrace the spirituality of India and how this belief created a very strong spiritual bond linking them to Tamil Nadu.
Diretor Dora Elek of the award winning documentary and founder of Baltazar Theatre Company mentioned that in the course of its 21-year long history, the company has travelled a long way both in terms of the artistic level of their performances as well as in setting a highly successful example of how art is able to address some fundamental issues of social integration of people with special needs. She had been planning to visit India for a long time, especially south India for getting in touch with the local culture. The theatre is one amongst a few artistic companies in the international scene that employs and focuses on people with mental disabilities, and their artistic level currently is second to none.
The concept behind the documentary falls in background story of the theatre Baltazar Theatre, founded in January 1998 in Budapest whose members are actors and actresses living with mental disability (down syndrome) trying to break new ground by putting the disabilities in the background emphasising their talent. They aim to create conditions for disabled people to express their talent and to ensure that social judgement on mentally disabled people changes. Ever since the company was founded, the actors had a dream of travelling to India and it came true in January 2015.
The spirituality to be found here is their main source of inspiration. On the screening of the film in city, Consul General of Hungary in Mumbai Ferenc Jari pointed out that the ministry was pleased to support the Hindi and Tamil language dubbing of the documentary.
"Through this film a unique cultural and social bridge has been established between Hungary and India, enriching the already diversified scope of interactions between governments, companies, institutions and citizens of the two countries. We should explore ways and means of exchanging best practices and supporting each other to be able to address better the issues of mental disability and mental health in our societies. This film can serve as an important stepping stone in this endeavour."