Open letters have become a trend in recent days. If any actress or person disagree with any film or incident, they write open letter to the particular person in question and it goes viral.
Margarita With A Straw directed by Shonali Bose garnered appreciation from audience and critics, especially the actress Kalki Koechlin's acting was outstanding. Kalki plays a girl with cerebral palsy (CP) and the movie is all about her.
Sonal did not like the way how the director showcased CP patient's sexual orientation. She wrote an open letter to Shonali as someone who has been a close accomplice to a person with Cerebral Palsy on her facebook page.
Dear Shonali Bose,
I am writing to you as a fan of the Bollywood movies.
I am writing to you as someone who has been a close accomplice to a person with Cerebral Palsy (CP).
I am writing to you as the movie you produced or held up is not closely related to how people with CP are.
The only subject of the film was sexuality. I was embarrassed to see the movie as I was accompanied with someone who happens to be a CP patient. She was infuriated with the storyline as it was only about sex. For a disabled person, sex is the last thing on their mind as there are so many different things to worry about; their relationship with their close one, their talent nurturing, their acceptance in society as normal people, and many more. BUT SEX IS THE LAST THING ON THEIR MIND, I guarantee!!
While in the cinema hall,there were people who were in wheelchair who came to see the film. I'm pretty sure they were left disappointed too.
Read the rest of the letter in the slides...
Sonal Vengurlekar Contines In Her Letter...
Just imagine the impact those mothers would have whose children are suffering from CP. Every mother would think that disabled children would turn gay due to non-acceptance by"normal" people. I have utmost respect for the LGBTQ community and appreciate those who come out. But being gay because no one accepts you is as bad a feeling as someone molesting you.
Kalki did a fine job as Laila, no doubt in that. But other characters should've been developed for the film to be accomplished as well.
Sonal Continues To Write to Shonali...
How did you educate your audience with the condition that Laila was suffering? You didn't! The word Cerebral Palsy was uttered twice or thrice in the entire movie. I felt sorry for Revathi's character (Aai) because of the well-crafted scene where she was combing her hair and the emotions made the audience feel bad for her; but precisely, only for that particular scene.
The protagonist (Laila) was straight away victimized in the film. When she was not able to get the-action from the lead singer of her band due to her disability you showed that she go for a physical relationship with Khanoom who is a visually impaired girl.
Sonal To Shonali...
Sexuality was certainly blown out of proportion; pointlessly! The carnal needs of a disabled person are portrayed in a haywire way and the helplessness to meet the same has also been exaggerated.
I waited throughout the film as to where you would educate your audience with what the condition(Cerebral Palsy) the protagonist was facing, but none of your character explained about the same. Being a new subject for Bollywood, you should've explained the same. If Aamir Khan is supporting your work, he should have given you inputs on your work. As in Taare Zameen Par, the difficulties faced by the protagonist were missing. And when you showed one of them (when Laila wants to use the washroom at Jared's place), the next scene made its focus back to sexuality.
If a disabled person has10 difficulties in their life, SEXUALITY WOULD BE THE TENTH!
When the critics acclaimed your movie, I was sure that it would have a message to the masses.But when I left the movie hall, my mind was blank. I was shocked rather than inspired.
In Pic: Shonali With Aamir
Aamir Khan said in an interview that Bollywood makes movies where the disabled are always shown as a friend or a relative but never the lead. When he had his share in Taare ZameenPar, he did a wonderful job. But now when he is supporting your cause, he should have given you some inputs on how to do research about the people suffering from the condition.
Due to lack of research,the film couldn't make the required impact on the audience and hence they were left incomplete after the movie.
Sonal's Concern In Letter...
Apart from this my other concern is about the sick people out there. Some of them would have watched your movie and got inspired to molest a disabled person. Would you take the blame for it, if someone molests a person who is immobile? The message through your movie was clear that if you know someone with a disability take a chance and due to low self-esteem the disabled person might have sex with you.
Sonal Didn't Hate Entire Movie...
It's not that I hated the entire movie. I liked the scenes where Laila was empowered. It was really inspiring to see that overcoming her disability she composes lyrics for her college band. The inter-collegiate band competition scene where she gives the-finger to the judge due to discrimination based on her disability was also perfect.
Although the characters of the family members were not developed quite well, the scene where Laila gets accepted in NYU and her Mom supports her over her father's decision is what struck the right chord. Families of such kids are close-knitted and loving.
Sonal Is Hardcore Bollywood Movies' Fan
I, being a hardcore fan of Bollywood, get inspired by movies. And I think there are millions of people out there who are like me. I want Bollywood movies to make greater impact on millions more and hence this open letter to you.
Final Request Of Sonal...
Finally, I have one humble request for you. In case, if you make a movie in the future do some extensive research on the lead character and how their persona affects the other characters in the storyline. It would certainly boost the quality of your films and make your audiences content as well.
A true fan of Bollywood movies,
- Sonal Vengurlekar