A quadriplegic, also known as tetraplegic, suffers from paralysis caused by illness or injury that results in the partial or total loss of use of all four limbs and torso. Jitendra Biswal, a quadriplegic, has just made and acted in a film about a person with such extreme disability and his relationship with a normal girl.
Hindi cinema has indeed seeped into every aspect of Indian society. With a large viewership base, it can, in the right hands, become a tool to bring about positive changes in society. A new film, to be released in April, aims to do just that – bring about social awakening and awareness. The Desire is a short 35 minute film, which revolves around an individual with extreme disability and his relationship with a normal girl.
What is unique about this film is that the lead is played by Jitendra Kumar Biswal, a quadriplegic himself.
When a 7-month-old Jitendra Kumar from Odisha came down with measles many years ago, the doctors administered a wrong dose of antibiotics, leading to the damage of his muscular system. The prognosis was poor and he wasn’t expected to live beyond the age of 20. But today, he is 47 years old and ready to debut in his first film. Although he is bound to his automatic wheelchair all day and requires an attendant or two at most times, Biswal has to his credit a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, a Bachelor’s in Law, a Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Applications, and Certification in Business Management. All this despite the fact that he raises his right forearm to pick up a pen to write with utmost difficulty.
The upcoming film, The Desire, is the brain child of Biswal.
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At a time when lack of funds was an issue, Mumbai based ad-filmmaker Avinash Nanda, agreed to help Biswal out. Director Avinash Nanda has directed over a hundred advertisements for national and international brands. He agreed to not only direct the film but also got entrepreneur friends, Rajinder Singh Bhatia and Rajesh Mohanty, to fund it. Swapna Pati, acclaimed Oriya actress and social activist, agreed to do the lead female role.
In a world that is often hostile towards the disabled, the film aims to create awareness that the disabled are no different from so-called normal people when it comes to emotions. They have similar feelings and desires and seek honest relationships. And isn’t that what makes us all human? We all need peers, buddies, lovers, and spouses. In Biswal’s words, “It is time society recognizes and respects this.”
“The message of my film is clear. Like any other human being, people with disability have feelings, emotions and desires.”
In the final stages of production, the film is expected to be released by end-April. Avinash Nanda aims to send this film to all the major international film festivals.
The Desire is truly an emotional journey. Biswal’s hope is the film will help bring about a paradigm shift in people’s attitude towards the disabled.