Take a bow, Nikhil Pherwani! With a small deed, you have introduced a big change. All of it by just staying true to your art. How amazing and applaud-worthy is that.
For the ones who do not know why I am praising the Director of Ahaan so much, here is why:
Ever seen a film where the lead actor is someone with a disability? We have seen Tapsee Pannu and Bhumi Pednekar unconvincingly play women in their 60s in Saand ki Aankh. That didn’t go down well with the audience and the makers faced major backlash for not casting senior actors for the role of senior citizens. That was one of the few online noises that actually made sense. Nikhil Pherwani, for his movie Ahaan, where one of his protagonists has down syndrome, has cast Abuli Mamaji, a young boy with Down Syndrome for the role. I really think, though small, this casting will definitely bring a change in the way industry thinks and works.
Coming to Abuli Mamaji, what a charmer he is! What fantastic work!
Ahaan is a heart-warming film, no doubt about it, but Abuli Mamaji is a stunner. Both Nikhil Pherwani and Abuli Mamaji have been successful in changing the audience’s perspective towards Down Syndrome.
Speaking of the movie, Ahaan took me back to my long lost childhood friend, Akshay. Being a kid, I did not know he has down syndrome. All I knew was that his speech was unclear and his mannerisms different from that of others. We travelled from the same auto-rickshaw to school and then back home. That was the only time I accompanied him. I always felt that when I am around he is my responsibility so I made sure I took good care of him whenever I was around him. As I grew up, I heard more about Down Syndrome from people who had inadequate knowledge about the condition. Most of what I heard of was that these kids get violent, panic a lot, and might attack you at times. Then whenever I saw such kids in the train while traveling to work, I used to maintain a safe distance. Yes, it was fear but it was also because I didn’t want to irritate them, by staring at or treating them differently. But yes, mostly because I didn’t have enough knowledge and right information about the condition. I never knew they could be like all of us.
A heartfelt thanks to the entire team of Ahaan for thinking of and executing a story and concept so real, so challenging, and yet so life-changing. It is a beautifully woven story.
The film time and again makes you question:
Who decides what’s normal? When the real reason behind Ozzy’s broken marriage is revealed, we are forced to ask ourselves: In one way or the other, aren’t we all sick? The only difference between these gentle and kind human beings and us (the so-called NORMAL people) is that of HUMANITY and LOVE. Maybe because people with down syndrome still radiate unconditional love without any prejudices and judgement is what makes them abnormal. Because this truly is a rare condition (we all should suffer from).
I would also like to talk about this beautiful scene in the film where Ozzy and Ahaan are traveling back home in the car where a man is seen pulling a loaded cart. Since he finds it difficult to pull the load all alone, he couldn’t quickly cross the road which again leads to a jam. Where this irritates Ozzy (a normal adult, fully grown-up man), Ahaan quickly gets down from the car and helps the cart puller move the cart from in between the road. All of us might have come across such an incident at least once in life. And I am sure none of us did what Ahaan did in the movie.
What I loved the most about Ahaan? That Ahaan was normal. He was born with a condition, that’s it. That condition restricted his life only because people around him didn’t let him outgrow it. Reason? It’s their own mental blockages and fear.
Ahaan was a guy with potential who believed in himself, who like everyone else dreamt of making a career and settling down in life. What delayed his success in life? His father’s narrow-mindedness. Ahaan was an independent guy who knew what the world had to offer him yet didn’t give a shit about what they thought about him. He was all set to take the bull by the horns.
Oh, how beautiful it would be (ab)NORMAL like Ahaan!
How we need more of such thought-provoking, perception changing cinema that makes man, human.
Where to Watch? Netflix