He has eyes but cannot see. He was born blind. She has eyes but only sees sorrow and loss all around. Her husband died three years ago. She sits in her house singing a sad, languid piece of classical music. He hears it and deeply appreciates the beauty of it. All the sorrow of the world seems to have come together in one song. They get to meet. They become friends. One day, at his house, she is tying his tie knot when he tries to take the knot in his hands. He is telling her, as he often does, that he can manage by himself. Their hands meet. They do not pull back. The chatter stops. There is silence. The knot is in her hands, and her hands in his. He clasps them softly. She closes her eyes, breathes deeply. No words are exchanged. He cannot see her, but he can sense her, smell her, touch her. His face moves closer to hers, their cheeks touch each other, his eyes close to her eyes, and he stays there, quiet, soft, yet intense.

It is such moments that dot Sparsh (1980), a film about those whose eyes cannot see, but whose touch can see and speak with a depth that ordinary people may never know of. Disability is not mere curse. It is also a gift. All of us are disabled in some way or the other. Sparsh tells us that being disabled may limit us, it may add suffering to our lives, but this very limitation and consequent suffering may be a source of idealism and empathy for ourselves and others.

Aniruddh is blind and has suffered deeply because of it. But he is spending his life, as principal of a blind children’s school, trying to make sure that the children in his care make something worthwhile of their lives despite their lack of eyesight. He is also spending this life with an exquisite sensitivity towards others’ pains and joys. When it comes to the most significant personal relationship in his life, we see him flounder, struggle, fall down. But then he stands up and tries again.

Will Aniruddh and Kavita be able to sustain a relationship? The film does not answer this question. It does answer other questions though. It does tell us that the magic of life lies not in grandness but in utter simplicity. It tells us that our weaknesses are also doorways to our strengths, and that ugliness holds a potential beauty. Coursing through its story with strains of Hindustani classical music, a calm and beautiful 1980s Delhi landscape in the background, and moments of simple joy in the blind children’s school where most of the film is shot, Sparsh is a gem of a film. Even with its flaws and its uneven finesse, it is a moving creation of a young woman called Sai Paranjpye striving to make meaningful cinema about ordinary people like you and me. To not mention what is probably Naseeruddin Shah’s best performance, and perhaps the most touching of all performances one may have ever seen, would be to leave this write up very incomplete. Much gratitude to the filmmakers of this very honest and sensitive film.


~ by tdcatss on September 22, 2014.

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