Making cinema viewing more inclusive

Viswasam director Siva expressed happiness and gratitude for the love and applause that came his way.

The visually challenged can ‘watch’ a movie and indulge in a cinematic experience just like any of us. And this is what happened in Sathyam Cinemas. Excitement touched the peak as the audio description-enabled version of Viswasam was recently screened at the eighth edition of AbilityFest.

Viswasam director Siva, present at the event, expressed happiness and gratitude for the love and applause that came his way. “I am supercharged and emotional. It was truly an eye-opening experience,” he said.

Ability Foundation has been receiving an overwhelming response for organising the festival for the visually challenged. In fact, the not-for-profit organisation has been championing the cause of disability-friendly entertainment. One may recall in the 2009 edition of the festival, Bollywood star Aamir Khan had given the permission to screen Taare Zameen Par with audio description.

Chief guest and actor Revathy insisted it would be great if all movies could be audio described this way. “Audio description can change how the visually challenged consume cinema,” she added.

Siva said, “Descriptive audios are an interesting concept and can be introduced into a theater setting for the visually challenged.”

Jayshree Raveendran, founder and executive director, Ability Foundation, said, “We are happy to have made a positive difference in the world of cinema. The festival aims to present sensitive and thought-provoking films on disability while at the same time underlining the importance of accessible cinema through subtitled and captioned films.”

Swaroop Reddy, Regional Director, PVR Cinemas, said, “This association not only provides us with an opportunity to screen some international films, but also helps us drive our initiative ‘Cinema for Everyone’.”

2019 marks the 25th year of Ability Foundation’s work. This edition features fifty films from 18 countries and entries are by and about persons with disabilities.

The evening also witnessed a language expert assigned to a corner of the screen as she stood on the stage, interpreting moments. A packed auditorium joyously hooted in unison.