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Understand Hearing Impairment Through Films

by Sonali Medhekar
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Hearing Impairment in simple words is lessened or lost ability to hear. The condition can be by birth (congenital) or acquired later, Learning about HI or also called as deaf and mute I realized how this function has direct impact on language and in turn intelligence. Earlier when there were less resources to tap individual’s potential, they were often labeled as ‘Deaf and Dumb’.

Then I started looking at films. Though Hearing Impairment is not a new diagnosis as other developmental disorders, somehow there are a very few portrayals of individuals with HI in films.

  1. Khamoshi: (Hindi, Amazon Prime/Hotstar) It is a musical treat for us with beautiful tracks. Here both parents are with HI and their daughter is on a journey of being a musician. We see this paradox of music and HI in many films in different contexts.
  • Barfi: (Hindi, Netflix) Barfi! Right from the name, the entire story gives us references of his being deaf ad Mute and how that brings a charm to the character. He definitely had his struggles; to understand his father’s last calling, to make police believe of his innocence yet the character maintains the freshness.
  • Koshish: (Hindi, YouTube) We see what parent can go through even if for a few seconds he thinks that his child is also HI just like him. As the movie progresses, we see a lovely family dynamic dealing with the outside world.  
  • Iqbal: (Hindi, Zee 5) The protagonist is the budding sports person. In Iqbal, we see a good fusion of his struggle full of strengths, limitations and passion. His sister, mother and coach show us what great support system can be!
  • Ajeeb Dastaans: (Hindi, Netflix) A mother learning sign language for her daughter, explores the community and rest is the story of what happens in a relationship. Conversations between the couple are engaging and language is definitely magnificent.
  • Sound of metal: (English, Amazon Prime) A musician starts losing his ability to hear and he must get used to a silence. How will he find his purpose? How will be his further journey as a human? Do watch this piece for answers.
  • Bandish Bandit: (English, Amazon Prime) We see the character struggling for hearing, as he is getting old. Being a passionate singer, this takes a toll on not only him but on a family. In a famous book I had read that all of us are going to feel ‘dis-abled’ at some point or the other. This portrayal is a classic example denoting how we can not really keep taking things for granted.
  • Hear no Evil: (English) We see a strength in the character when she has to deal with a haunting incidence. Somewhere the limitation of being hearing impaired is also seen in this film and it leaves us feeling helpless.
  • Children of a Lesser God: (English) A journey of a couple who is HI, working in a school and taking up all challenges and dealing with them effortlessly, movie definitely is moving. Female protagonist being HI herself, Marlee Matlin won the Academy Award for best actress.
  • Tu hai mera Sunday: (English, Netflix) This entire movie is so fresh, it will surely lift your spirits. The character of Tasneem uses ISL effortlessly to communicate with her children.
  • India’s Silent National Anthem: (Indian Sign Language, YouTube) When I had watched this the first time, I had goosebumps. It goes beyond our imagination and indeed brings the connectivity as we see the same expression being shared by children using Indian Sign Language. (Watch on YouTube).
  • Gallaudet University: (American Sign Language and English, YouTube) This is the tour video of the Gallaudet University. I guarantee that you will be astonished after watching this short YouTube video. (Watch on YouTube).
  • Deaf U: (English, Netflix) Documentary series Students from the same university have presented their college life for us. There are only 8 episodes, 18 minutes each. They will totally uplift your spirits.

 There are more videos and organization details on YouTube if you type ‘Videos in Sign Language’.

To know more about Hearing Impairment (name, characteristics, more film references, books and much more), do watch our video on YouTube channel ‘Speak with Sonali’.

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