BENGALURU: How do visually impaired people watch a movie? Sharmi Thapa, a 32-year-old visually impaired, loved the last movie she watched, Bajirao Mastani. The sounds of horses stirred her imagination and the Pinga dance reminded her of Dola Re Dola, which she vividly recalls as Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai dancing clad in bright red. Sharmi lost her eyesight in 2009.
An ongoing campaign called Garv Se includes a project, to help a person understand Sharmi’s experience. The campaign started by Vishnu Soman, head of community projects of EnAble India and Shanti Raghavan, founder of EnAble India, aims to reach 10,000 Indians by December 3, World Disability Day.
They will screen a film and viewers will experience it as a visually-challenged person does. All a participant has to do is put on a blindfold and watch the movie or choose to narrate the movie to a visually-impaired person sitting next to them.
It is a non-threatening way to make an abled person understand a disabled person’s experience. “We are trying something a mother does to get her child to take medicine, mix something sweet with the pill,” says Vishnu.
They will be screening Finding Dory, a-2016-released animated movie, on November 20, at 10 am in EnAble India centre.
The Garv Se campaign will also hold games in colleges, schools and companies that promote inclusive thinking.
Simple handcrafted games such as filling a form with a hearing-impaired person or tying shoe laces with hands tied up will be played with the groups for two hours. The group has organised various events such as finger chats to promote Indian Sign Language and blind trek with the deaf.
“People take disability very seriously. The idea behind the campaign is to get people to treat it more casually, be more relaxed around it,” Vishnu says.
The campaign had a trial run in September but it started in earnest in November. Four members of the non-profit organisation, including one deaf and another a visually impaired person, will be touring seven cities in India for this, this month. The seven cities include places in Kerala and Gujarat and cities such as Mumbai, Delhi and Pune. Places near Bengaluru such as Mysuru and Mangaluru have already been covered. Chennai will be a part of the movement through other initiators of the project.
An entire village in Mangaluru took part in the awareness game conducted by the group with the help of village Panchayats.
“The magic we see in Bengaluru cannot be witnessed anywhere else,” says Vishnu, who has been in this field even while in primary school. “Any kind of volunteering is seen a charity and 99 per cent of the people are driven by sympathy. Bengaluru is the most disabled-friendly city because people bond during such campaigns and they don’t stand apart as volunteers,” he says.