Beginning a new trend in Indian cinema

"My films are not about disability, they are about life in general. The triumphs and tribulations of the common man interest me,'' says Malayalam film director Vinayan who has made four films projecting disabled characters as heroes and who is in the process of winding up his fifth film, "Meerayude Dukhavum, Muthuvinte Swapanvum'' (Feeling of Meera and the Dream of her Brother Muthu).

Vinayan can be credited with beginning a new trend in Indian movies -- taking the risk to portray disabled characters as heroes. "Usually, heroes are projected as cute and smart. My characters come from real life and I want to show that they are better than the so-called able people,'' says Vinayan, whose first film "Superstar'' explored the inferiority of a small-time barber who thinks he is the Malayalam superstar Mohanlal.

Quitting his job in the Kerala Electricity Board and with no formal training in direction, Vinayan started making movies based on his childhood impressions and observations. "Kaasi, for example, is based on one of my friends who was blind. He died 10 years ago. We grew up together in Kuttanadu village in Allepey. He was a leader of his family and even normal people were dependent on him."

Originally made in Malayalam as "Vaasanthiyum, Lakshmiyum, Pinne Gnanum'', the film won rave reviews and now Vinayan is attempting to make it in Hindi. "I had given the CD to one of my friends who showed it to Aamir Khan. I am told he liked the movie,'' says Vinayan, adding that another one of his films, "En Mana Vaanil'' has been liked by a Hollywood actor and will in all likelihood be made in English.

Describing himself as a "film-maker of the masses'' Vinayan says right from childhood, he loved to take challenges and even as a stage artist in Kerala, he included disabled characters in his drama. "I do not see them as a separate category of people deserving sympathy,'' says the Malayalam film director, who has made 18 movies so far.

His new movie "Meerayude Dukhavum, Muthuvinte Swapanvum'' which is nearing completion and slated for an all-India release on July 6 is based on the love of a brother and his sister. "Meera is a physically challenged girl who does all her work and has immense affection for her brother. She does not think about her disability,'' he says, adding: "This story is based on the life of a writer and singer whom I know and who is very abled.''

By Kannan K.

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