A film on a differently-abled woman’s ‘will and zest for life’ bagged honours at the 64th National Film Awards.
While the Amitabh Bachchan and Tapsee Pannu starrer Pink won t the best film award on a social issue, ‘I am Jeeja’, narratingthe life and struggles of a cerebral palsy activist Jeeja Ghosh,won the best film award on a social issue in the non-feature film category. The award citation of the film says that it is a "simply told story" and "a beautiful ode to life". The film sharess the award with Sanath, a film by Vasant S. Sai about a victim of medical negligence and his life after that.
Film director, Swati Chakraborty, teacher-turned-friend of Jeeja Ghosh, said she was overwhelmed by Jeeja’s courage who had been undeterred by her limitations.
The 28-minute documentary produced by Public Service Broadcasting Trust traces the journey of Jeeja Ghosh who shot into the limelight in 2012 when a private airline crew “pulled her out” of the plane at Kolkata airport merely because the captain felt she was a threat to the flight. In May 2016, the Supreme Court directed the private airline to pay Jeeja a compensation of Rs 10 lakh
The film also deals with other intricate issues relating to her personal life, such as her achievements in terms of building a successful career as an disability activist and her marriage.
The film shows Jeeja, who has cerebral palsy, tying the knot with Bappaditya Nag in 2013 and starting a normal conjugal relationship, “The film brings to the fore the issue of sexuality and relationship between a differently-abled person and a person without any disability,” the director told The Hindu .
, The film at one point shows Jeeja saying that a disabled person is considered an “object with no sexuality and gender”and yet such an individuals is vulnerable to sexual abuse and violence.
There are even touches of humourwhen Jeeja hurls abuses at a few bikers jeering at her because she was taking her time while crossing the road.. “Firsta woman, that too disabled and going to office. Unimaginable!,” Jeeja says to the camera.
“The story is a first person narration by Jeeja Ghosh herself. which may be a rare instance where the film uses the voice of a person with speech impairment. I did not use any voice over and wanted the viewers to hear Jeeja’s voice,” the director adds.
For 46- year-old Jeeja Ghosh, the film shooting was an enjoyable experience. “She ( Swati Chakraborty) is a colleague and friend,” she said. The film will go a long way in establishing the rights of the disabled and treating them at par with normal individuals, she added.
Before directing this film, Swati Chakraborty, who for the past three decades had been associated with the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, had made only a few documentaries.
“I started working on the film in 2015 and completed it in 2016. The award will give me more conviction to carry my work for those who are deprived and are subject some of social discrimination,” Ms Chakraborty added.