Film critic with spl needs on mission to make theatres disabled-friendly

Paresh said that though he had filed several complaints with the government, including the principal secretary of the local self-government department, in 2022, no action has been taken.
Paresh C Palicha
Paresh C Palicha

KOCHI: Despite his cerebral palsy, Paresh C Palicha is an ardent movie buff who is keen to be part of all premiere shows. But the 50-year-old Kochi resident rues the fact that despite being legally binding, most movie houses are not disabled-friendly. Facilities such as ramps, lifts, escalators, and toilets for disabled persons do not even cross the mind of stakeholders. His movie evenings involve his friends or relatives helping him in and out of theatres. 

Paresh has now approached the Kerala High Court seeking a directive to the government to ensure disabled-friendly facilities in cinemas. Originally from Gujarat, Paresh has lived in Kochi since birth. He was on the selection panel for international films at the 2022 International Film Festival of Kerala. Reminiscing about his childhood days, Paresh, who is also a movie critic, says it was his late father, Charandas Palicha, who introduced him to the movies.

Later, his friends and family members came forward to help him to watch shows in theatres. Over the years, conventional theatres turned into multiplexes. But they are not disabled-friendly and none of them meet legal standards. “I used to attend premiere shows. Now it’s difficult. If there are disabled-friendly movie houses in the city, I would not need the help of my relatives,” he said.

In his petition, Paresh pointed out that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 was passed by Parliament for ensuring a dignified life for persons with disabilities. The legislation also facilitates full acceptance of people with disability and ensures full participation of such persons in society. Disabled-friendly structures, construction and reasonable accommodation along with ease of access are mandatory for all public and private establishments as per the scheme of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Rules, 2017. “Public buildings, parks and open spaces should be open and accessible to all citizens, including people with disabilities,” he submitted.

Paresh said that though he had filed several complaints with the government, including the principal secretary of the local self-government department, in 2022, no action has been taken. “My complaints against theatres for not providing adequate accessibility standards to persons with disabilities have fallen on deaf ears. This forced me to move a petition in the High Court,” he said. HC admitted his petition on July 11 and has issued notice to the Centre and state government.

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