On the occasion of India's 61st Republic Day, the Mudra Group created a new video, which is a silent rendition of India's National Anthem, interpreted through the sign language. Released on January 26, the video will be flashed across screens in all the BIG Cinemas, before a film commences. BIG Cinemas is a division of Reliance MediaWorks.
The presentation is a unique one, as it has been entirely shot in sign language. Children with hearing and speech disabilities have acted in it, thus sending out the message that despite impairment, one has the right to sing the national Anthem in his/her own special way.
The film was shot in Mumbai's Don Bosco School. It features nearly 500 children, from eight Mumbai-based special schools. The schools held rehearsals for nine days, leading to the final shoot. Sangeeta Gala, a mute-training and lip reading specialist teacher, taught the children how to express the national anthem in sign language.
Currently, the video is being aired in all BIG Cinemas in Maharashtra. Over the next week it will be released across all 260 screens nationwide following which it will be released on BIG Cinemas overseas for the benefit of NRI moviegoers.
Pawar goes on to explain that if we, as a nation, do not respect and cherish our cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, it can play the role of a separatist force and divide us.
"We are a nation of so many different languages and so much diversity, but there are those who harbour certain prejudices and biases. This film is meant to urge Indians to rid themselves of these prejudices, in this case against those with any kind of physical challenges, as well as those of region, religion, language and other factors that divide us," says he. Pawar reiterates that it is through such a subject that the film intends to convey the spirit of national unity.
Posters will be put up outside the theatres as well. The posters have been designed and scripted by Pawar. The message will be conveyed through digital space, as well as social media platforms such as Facebook, where the video can be seen, giving viewers the opportunity to discuss and share their ideas on the subject. The film will also be played on select television channels.
These initiatives are just part of phase one. It promises to be a long-term initiative. "This is going to be a mass movement. To generate dialogue is just the first step," says Pawar who feels that the first step is to acknowledge the prejudices we harbour. The entire campaign, he says, will be spread over a period of time.
Not featuring professional actors in the film was a conscious decision, says Sharma. "What appealed to me most was the challenge this idea posed to me as a film maker. It needed to be handled very sensitively. I went and met these special kids, who have been featured in the video, and was really touched by the spirit they showed," says he.
Commenting on the initiative, Anil Arjun, chief executive officer, Reliance MediaWorks, says, "The silent National Anthem is an evocative and moving expression on patriotism and we hope that the BIG Cinemas' patrons across India and the globe would be able to identify with this unique composition."