Gulzar`s poems raise awareness about struggles of disabled

Updated: May 15, 2011, 10:39 AM IST

New Delhi: Bollywood`s ace poet-lyricist Gulzar is now yielding his pen to sensitise society to the issues faced by it`s `disabled` members, through a series of posters captioned by him.

"From the time I made `Koshish` I have been trying to learn about the problems of people with any form of handicap," said Gulzar after inaugurating `Ek Prarthana` a week-long exhibition of posters by Arushi, a Bhopal-based NGO that began here today.

The 1972 film `Koshish` directed by Gulzar, starring Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri, portrays a deaf and mute couple who struggle to survive in a desensitised society.

The 75-year-old has captioned posters made from photographs of children engaged in various routine activities both in school and outside.

While one poster shows a visually handicapped child descending a flight of stairs, wondering why the steps are travelling up when he himself is going down, another depicts another child with a walking cane urging everyone to follow in his footsteps.

"This is an attempt to familiarise people with the faces and activities of people with disabilities. Even today whenever you meet a handicapped person you feel awkward and do not know how to behave. Some people automatically raised their pitch when talking to a blind person not realising that the person has no problem with his hearing," said Gulzar who volunteers at the organisation and propagates its activities in Mumbai.

The poet has also written one of the three chapters added to all textbooks of the Madhya Pradesh Board of Secondary Education depicting case scenarios where children are sensitised to the needs and requirements of their fellow
disabled students.

"The three pages added to the end of the textbooks include explanations to read braille and sign language. I think such efforts should be made in other states also so that children can grow up to be adults, equipped to deal with those, who are disabled," said Gulzar.

There are a total of 70 posters all captioned and signed by Gulzar, collected over a period of 10 years.

"We have approached various states and some like Chhattisgarh have showed interest in them. Also we are sending five posters with the original Urdu citations by Gulzar to Pakistan and Bangladesh," said Anil Mudgal, founder member of Arushi.

Gulzar has been working with the organisation for the past three decades and helped build a wheel chair track along Chowpati beach in Mumbai.