Disability: 30 yrs after Anjali, Indian cinema is as cold and indifferent as ever

Anjali (1990) is a celebrated Tamil film made by the ace director Mani Ratnam that still continues to evoke a special attachment in many even now. | Image - Immayabharathi K

A happy family of four — father, mother, brother, sister — has moved into an apartment society that is strict about rules and where the elders are always at odds with a group of mischievous trouble-making children, who are otherwise out on their Famous Five or Secret Seven-like adventures discovering well-hidden secrets of the gated community.

In comes a mentally challenged two-year-old girl, the third child of the family, disrupting the whole ecosystem. Brought by the endearing father, who had hidden the child since her birth, even from the mother, the child is clearly not normal and finds it difficult to find acceptance, as feared by the father. She shivers when touched by her mother who longs for her love, but is happy to slap her back, and is a merry bundle when a police officer is thrown off a high-rise and killed by a gangster. She doesn’t mind being ridiculed by other children of the society, and goes on to strike a special bond with a murderer who has just been back from jail and is avoided by all others.

Given her condition, nobody likes her. Her siblings find it difficult to accept her initially. But when they slowly come to terms with her, the society wants her out, saying the mentally challenged have a special place to be in. She is not the kind you would have in your surroundings — at least not 30 years back.

But then everything changes and the outcast becomes the centre of attention for all.

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