We break into a bout of laughter at the slapstick comedy scenes from Ranbir Kapur’s teenage boy avatar with a stammer in Jagga Jasoos and find nothing wrong with that. Humour, for us, is always at the expense of someone else and the censor board has ‘religiously’ been the mirror of Indian society. A graphic scene depicting love making or a semi-covered body of a woman or scenes that ‘hurt’ religious sentiments have always provoked the public. Meanwhile, jokes on homosexuality, stammering or ‘madrasis’ are not offensive, and censor board sees no reason to strike against them. In this scenario, comes the ordinary stammer that has been oft portrayed in a bad light throughout cinema. A city-based organisation took out a march to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to protest against the inappropriate portrayal of stammering in Indian cinemas.
“I don’t understand why our society associates so much negativity with stammering and speech disabilities. It is so shameful to see that even in this century, films like Jagga Jasoos and Dangal portray people who stammer with a note of ridicule,’’said Radhika Povayya, director of Samvaad Institute of Speech and Hearing, who led the protest march two weeks ago. The NGO is currently gathering online signatures through their FB page to meet the minister to address this issue.
Abhinav Singh, who is part of the city-based self help group for people with speech disabilities says that sending wrong messages to the public through movies should be stopped right away. “It’s not fun, it’s the way we are. Movies impact us a lot and they should stop giving wrong messages to the society,’’ said Abhinav. A few Bengaluru-based folk who work closely with people with hearing and speech disabilities share their views on this.
Dr Preeja Balan, director of a city-based speech and hearing centre also feels that people who stammer aren’t always lily-livered or nervously traumatised like in movies. “Films and TV shows have been using stuttering as a comic component not realising that a lot of people are actually leading a successful life with it. This also reinforces the fact that it is ok to tease somebody who stammers. Instead movies should focus on ‘what they speak’ rather than ‘how they speak’,’’ said Preeja.
“I have seen them in pain, and angered at the way they are treated. Media is a strong medium to trigger social consciousness and it should be used in a meaningful way,’’ said Annie Dsouza, director of a city-based NGO. Annie feels that cinema as a strong medium should deal with topics like ‘disability’ in a more sensitive manner....