WHEN BOLLYWOOD ACTRESSES PORTRAYED BLIND CHARACTERS

By

Sharada Iyer

Sometimes our movies have scripts which require the actors to essay the role of a person with some physical disability like blindness, speech impairment, learning disability, mental illness, skin disfigurement, inability to walk, paralysis, artificial foot,bound to a wheel-chair,  etc. Though playing such roles is not easy, many of our actors have accepted such roles as a challenge and have come out with terrific performances.

While portraying a blind person the actors have to pay special attention to the eye movement and eye muscle co-ordination and requires a lot of skill to pretend that one is not seeing anything or anyone around when in reality everything is actually visible. Also as a blind person has feelings like any normal person, emotions need to be conveyed and a blank expression in the eyes is to be avoided.

In this blog-post, I bring to you 21 instances from the earliest to the latest, when our actresses decided to become ‘blind’ and test their skill. These include films where the blind character was mostly the heroine of the film but sometimes it was the mother, sister or friend who was affected.

In some of the films, these characters remained blind in the entire story like Black and Sangeet while in some they become blind halfway through the story like Chiraag, Kinara and Choti Behn. In some other cases, they were cured and had their vision restored like Patang, Sunayana and Jheel Ke Us Paar. Such variations helped to heighten the drama in the story and make sure that the viewer is kept engaged…

Except Black, in all other films, they had lovely songs picturised on them…

RUMA DEVI – Mashaal (1950)

Actress Ruma Devi was Kishore Kumar’s first wife in real life. She acted in very few Hindi films and in this one she shares screen space with Ashok Kumar. The heroine of the film is Sumitra Devi who is in love with Ashok Kumar but is forced to marry a wealthy ‘zamindar’. Ruma’s blind character as the real heir of the zamindar’s estate is also an important one and a series of events end in her marriage being fixed to Ashok Kumar even though she is in love with the stepson of the heroine Sumitra in the film. Under Nitin Bose’s able direction, Ruma acts very well and looks very sweet.

Here she is singing thinking of her lover…

GEETA BALI- Jailor (1958)

The heroine of this film is Kamini Kaushal and is married to Sohrab Modi who is a strict jailor. He tries to imprison her in the house and imposes many restrictions on her. Frustrated with the state of her marriage, she elopes with her lover Abhi Bhattachrya. But their car meets with an accident and she is forced to go back to her married life. He becomes blind, runs away from the hospital and ends up in a village where he meets a blind girl Geeta Bali who sings at the village temple. Their blindness helps them to bond with each other. But by a quirk of fate, when her brother is jailed he requests the jailor to look after his sister and so Geeta Bali is taken to the jailor’s house where he gets her treated and her eyesight is restored. Meanwhile Kamini has committed suicide and Sohrab wants to marry Geeta but she yearns for her blind village lover. In the end Sohrab lets her go and curses his fate that he loses both the women in his life to the same man- Abhi Bhattachrya!

The film as well as the jailor’s character is quite weird and Geeta Bali has a small role which she performs in her usual uninhibited style. Here is a song which she sings in the temple…

NANDA- Choti Behn (1959)

In this 1959 family drama, which is a remake of the Tamil film En Thangai, Nanda is the youngest sibling and loved by her three elder brothers- Balraj Shani, Rehman and Mehmood. Veena, Shyama and Shubha Khote form their love interest. Nanda comes to know she has become blind on the day of her marriage and the marriage is called off. Balraj decides not to marry to look after his sister and many misunderstandings crop up and the family gets separated with Nanda landing up miraculously at the very Doctor’s doorstep to whom her marriage had been fixed. Many melodramatic scenes later it is a happy ending with the last scene ending on a note of hope that after surgery Nanda may get her sight back. All the actors come up with brilliant performances and the film also has excellent songs.

Here is the song which she sings when her marriage is fixed and for reasons best known to her, towards the end part of the song her friends make her swing at such a crazy speed that she falls from the swing and loses her vision…

MALA SINHA – Patang (1960)

In this entertaining family drama directed by Suraj Prakash and Hargovind, Mala Sinha becomes blind because of an unfortunate accident which occurs during Diwali when as a kid she is playing with the crackers. Her childhood friend who later grows up to be Rajendra Kumar feels guilty of causing the accident and grows up to be an eye surgeon in the hope of restoring her vision. So after a couple of operations, she gets her eyesight back but their path of love is not smooth. While she is the daughter of a poor journalist, he is the only son of a rich ‘zamindar’ (landlord) and there is a lot of drama including a murder committed by his father for which Mala Sinha’s father is blamed.

Here is a lovely song which Mala Sinha sings thinking of Rajendra Kumar…

NIMMI- Pooja ke Phool (1964)

Dharmendra and Mala Sinha love each other but one day when he goes back to his village he is faced with a dilemma which changes the course of his life completely. His sister loves the village goon Pran who puts the condition that he would marry her only if Dharmendra agreed to marry Pran’s blind sister Nimmi. Initially he hates Nimmi and takes out his frustration on her by ill-treating her. But Mala Sinha puts sense into his head and even acts as his defense lawyer when he is charged with a murder actually committed by Pran.

It is an engaging family drama and Nimmi due to her sense of touch becomes an important witness to identify the murderer as he had inadvertently stamped on her hand while running. Here is a lovely song picturized on her and the tune is copied from the Tamil counterpart of the same film…

Am posting the link of the Tamil song as well (film: Kumudam)…

ASHA PAREKH –Chiraag (1969)

Sunil Dutt and Asha Parekh are happily married and love each other very much. Except for the fact that they have no kids things are going smooth in their life when suddenly tragedy strikes. During Diwali night while lighting a rocket, sparks fly into her eye rendering and she loses her eyesight. Now mother-in-law Lalita Pawar shows her true colours and  starts taunting her for not only being unable to bear a child but now also becoming a burden because of her blindness. She is forced to leave home and Sunil Dutt is pressurized to agree to a second marriage! A lot of drama ensues before things are sorted at the end. Sunil Dutt’s character is exemplary in the film and Asha Parekh’s acting is superb.

Director Raj Khosla always had lovely songs in his films and here is one which ironically praises her eyes…

MOUSHMI CHATTERJEE-Anuraag (1972)

It requires guts to play a blind character in a debut film but Moushmi Chatterjee took on the challenge given by her director Shakti Samantha and came out with flying colours. Her charming smile and pleasing personality won her many fans. This sensitive story ended up winning that year’s Filmfare award for the Best Film. The blind orphan Moushmi becomes friends with a young boy Master Satyajeet who always plays near her orphanage. She is soon adopted by his family which comprised of grand-father Ashok Kumar, mother Nutan and a servant Rajesh Khanna in a special appearance. However things take a tragic turn when the boy is diagnosed with fourth stage blood cancer and towards his end he decides to donate his eyes to Moushmi because the only way she can get her eyesight is through a dead donor.

Here is a song which she sings with her lover Vinod Mehra…

MUMTAZ – Jheel Ke Us Paar (1973)

Director Bhappie Sonie extracts a brilliant performance from Mumtaz who is blinded in childhood when she accidentally comes under the horse-cart of a rich landlord. When they grow up, his son Dharmendra out of a sense of guilt and duty takes it upon himself to restore her eyesight. She is ill-treated by her step-mother and her only friend is her father Pran and when he dies, Dharmendra brings her home. But this move makes his fiancée Yogita Bali jealous and his mother Veena very angry and they even plot to kill her. Sensing their animosity even though her vision is restored after surgery she continues to pretend to be blind. After a lot of drama including a murder, there is happy ending. 

Mumtaz comes up with a remarkably restrained and sensitive performance and gets to sing many lovely songs. The song chosen here is one in which the blind Mumtaz is made to look a joker on purpose by the jealous Yogita Bali and when people laugh at her she sings thus meaningful song to them…

NIRUPA ROY- Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)

Director Manmohan Desai used his trademark ‘lost and found’ theme in the film to give Superstar Amitabh Bachchan one of the biggest hits of his career. In the film Nirupa Roy plays mother to Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna and Rishi Kapoor and in one scene while running away from some goons to protect herself, she stumbles on a stone, falls down and loses her eyesight. After almost three-fourth of the movie is over, she gets her vision back miraculously when once gain some goons are following her and she ends up the temple of ‘Shirdi Sai Baba’! The scene made quite an impact at that time with the public lapping up the ‘faith’ aspect of the story.

Here is the song where her vision is restored…

HEMA MALINI- Kinara (1977)

In this film Hema Malini is a famous classical dancer and just when her life seems to be going smoothly, her lover Dharmendra dies in a car accident. She quits dancing and tries to publish the book which he had been writing. She then meets Jeetendra and gets close to him but one day is shocked to learn that it was his car which had killed Dharmendra. Just when they are fighting, she falls down the stairs and loses her eyesight. Now Jeetendra out of guilt poses as Dharmendra’s friend and helps her regain her confidence as a dancer to put up a show so that she can collect enough money to publish the book. Though Hema loses her vision only halfway down the story, she manages to leave an impact and also gets to dance as a blind person.

This is certainly not one of Gulzar’s best movies but the songs remain a delight as always. Here’s a lovely song where Jeetendra helps her to practice her dance steps… 

APARNA SEN –Imaan Dharam (1977)

This was a Salim-Javed film which surprisingly did not run in spite of a good star-cast including Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Sanjeev Kumar, Utpal Dutt, Rekha, Helen and Aparna Sen. Amitabh and Shashi Kapoor live in a ‘chawl’ (very low priced accomodations) and make a living by becoming paid witnesses and giving false testimony in small cases in the court. They are very fond of their blind neighbour Aparna Sen who loves singing. She chides them for not having any conscience and committing perjury like this. She falls in love with Sanjeev Kumar, the honest son of a corrupt businessman Utpal Dutt. She does not have too much role but is able to leave a mark with her sensitive portrayal.

To make her feel happy Amitabh and Shashi lie to her, book the entire hall, play a taped recording of ‘clapping’ and she is made to believe that she is singing in front of a huge audience…

RAMESHWARI – Sunayana (1979)

This Rajshri production had Rameshwari playing a poor blind girl who makes a living by selling flowers outside a temple. An honest village simpleton Naseeruddin Shah falls in love with her and collects enough money to get her operated and meets many people including an eye doctor but unfortunately lands up in jail at the time of her operation. She gets back her eyesight but her marriage gets fixed to the same doctor who treated her and she is unable to recognize Naseeruddin when he comes to meet her…

Rameshwari comes up with a good performance and here is a song she sings while selling flowers…

RAAKHEE – Barsaat Ki Ek Raat (1981)

Once again it is director Shakti Samantha helming the proceedings and this time Raakhee plays the blind daughter of an honest officer who refuses to accept bribe from the local goons. She falls in love with Amitabh Bachchan who comes in the guise of a tourist but is actually an undercover cop out to catch the gang of criminals headed by Amjad Khan. They get married but one night when she is alone tragedy strikes as Amjad Khan rapes her to avenge both Amitabh and her father. Raakhee handles the difficult role with sensitivity and comes up with a memorable performance.

Here is a song where she is thinking of Amitabh…

SHILPA SHIRODKAR- Bhrashtachar (1989)

This clichéd film dealing with corruption is easily one of director Ramesh Sippy’s most forgettable films. Rekha is the heroine and is on a crusade to get all corrupt ministers and businessmen arrested. Shilpa Shirodkar makes her debut with this film and is the blind daughter of a prostitute who in turn is the mistress of the local don. She has a very small role and has a morbid rape scene picturized on her after which she is tragically killed.

Here is a song which she sings with Rekha’s brother who falls in love with her…

MADHURI DIXIT –Sangeet (1992)

A lovely film directed by K Vishwanath which had Madhuri Dixit in a brilliant double role as both mother and daughter. As the film is about music and dance, both are dancers in the film but the daughter Madhuri is blind. The film is a treat for Madhuri fans where she not only looks stunning and acts very well, but has also danced beautifully. Jackie Shroff as the daughter’s lover has given a subdued performance.

RANI MUKHERJEE –Black (2005)

Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali gave the finest role of her career to Rani  Mukherjee in Black and she is simply brilliant as the blind, deaf as well as mute girl trying to cope with her disabilities at every step in life. She brings out the frustration, the joys, the anger, the heartache and her innermost feelings so beautifully that we cannot control our tears as we become part of Michelle’s eventful journey. It was really sad that in spite of such a heart-rending performance she lost out on the National award for the Best Actress which she truly deserved for this film!

There are no songs picturized on her as such but here is a small clip from the film…

KAJOL- Fanaa (2006)

Kajol makes a comeback with this film and both her acting and her pairing with Aamir Khan were appreciated a lot. She plays a blind girl who goes to Delhi with her college troupe for a dance performance and falls in love with the tourist guide Aamir Khan who is actually a terrorist on a bombing mission. They plan to get married and even end up sleeping together. She undergoes a surgery to cure her of her blindness but after the surgery Aamir goes missing. A few years later when she is staying with their son and her dad, Aamir enters her life again by a quirk of fate but she is unable to recognize him. He in turn is shocked to see her and also to find out that he has a son. Later she is upset and angry when she comes to know of his real identity and even helps the authorities in killing him.

Here is the famous song which he sings while posing a s tourist guide…

DEEPIKA PADUKONE- Lafangey Parindey (2010)

Director Pradeep Sarkar weaves this beautiful love story of a blind dancer-Deepika Padukone- and a street fighter-Neil Nitin Mukesh- who specializes in blindfold boxing to earn money and both belong to the same ‘chawl’. Deepika is training hard to win a dance competition which she feels will give her an opportunity to rise from the rut and make a better life for herself but her dreams are shattered when right in the beginning of the film she meets with a freak accident when his motorcycle hits her and she loses her eyesight. When he comes  to know of her plight, he makes it his mission to help her deal with her disability, gets her to practice  hard,becomes her dance partner and trains along with her to enter the competition. Later when she realizes that she has unknowingly fallen in love with the very man who had caused the accident, she is shocked and angry. Deepika comes up with a superb performance especially considering the fact that this was one of her early films. Her graceful dancing on the roller skates is brilliant…

This song comes in the background when she is frustrated and trying to cope with her blindness while he watches her helplessly…

SAINEE GUPTA- Margarita with a Straw (2014)

This film deals with the journey of a girl afflicted with ‘cerebral palsy’ and  how the different people she meets and the various incidents that occur in her life ultimately help her to become the woman she grows up to be finally. Kalki Koechlin plays the main protagonist and during her stint as a student in Manhattan she befriends a blind Muslim girl Sainee Gupta who is of Bangladeshi origin. She shares her apartment with her and the two also end up sharing a sexual relationship. She takes her home to India to introduce her to her mother.The plot has lots of twists and keeps the viewer engaged.

Here is a song showing their friendship….

KAJAL AGARWAL- Do Lafzon Ki Kahani (2016)

A love story between an ex-boxer Randeep Hooda and a blind girl living alone Kajal Aggarwal wherein he is shocked to find out that indirectly he was not only responsible for the death of her parents but also for her blindness. Filled with guilt, he decides to join an illegal fight club to raise money for her operation. But after she gets her eyesight, she is unable to find him as he had become a paralytic due to spinal injury because of a car accident. She works as a physiotherapist in the same hospital where he is recuperating and after some more drama they are united.

Here is a romantic song from the film…

YAMI GAUTAM – Kaabil (to be released on 26th January, 2017)

In this film, Yami plays a blind girl in love with Hrithik Roshan who is also blind in the film. From the promos of the film, this story of a visually challenged couple promises to be an-edge-of-the-seat thriller as it is a unique idea and probably the only one of its kind to have been made in Hindi cinema where both the hero and heroine are blind…

Here is the trailer of the film…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “WHEN BOLLYWOOD ACTRESSES PORTRAYED BLIND CHARACTERS

  1. Wow! What a collection! Superb, commendable research. All the ladies whose movies I’ve seen have been great!
    The promo of kaabil seems very exciting. I’m sure they have lifted from Wait until Dark of Katherine Hepburn…. Very good read.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A near-exhaustive line up of movies featuring blind damsels in distress.

    Black happens to be my favourite not only because of the movie but also because Ayesha Kapur is from Auroville/Pondicherry, the place where I also happen to reside.

    Liked by 1 person

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