It came as a bit of a shock to many when I told them of my deafness. They would tell me,Oh,you seem so normal and Id be like,what did you expect, says Natasha. Even in the video,its hard to tell that Natasha is hearing-impaired and its easier to understand why people are taken aback when they learn of her disability. But in the case of Abha,the wheelchair makes it obvious that she has a disability. If I walk into a beauty parlour in India,people give a look that says why does she need it? But its my body and my wish, says Abha.
Natasha and Abha may be facing their own set of challenges owing to their respective impairments,but both have come to terms with those difficulties,and have emerged as stronger and more confident women be it physically,emotionally or even sexually. Through their life stories and those of two other remarkable women Sonali and Kanti Delhi-based Shweta Ghoshs film,titled Accsex,explores the notion of beauty,sexuality and perfect body. The 52-minute film will be screened at Open Space on Saturday,followed by an interaction with the filmmaker.
Ghosh grew up in a family which was sensitive to the idea of disability. Her father had lost an arm,and both her parents had worked extensively with disabled people. So when she pitched an idea to the Public Service Broadcasting Trust and Doordarshan-Prasar Bharati Corporation for funding,she was well-equipped for it.
The hard part was finding people to talk not just about disabilities,but about sexuality. Sexuality is a more private matter and most people are unwilling to share their experiences about it. I already knew Natasha and Sonali,but finding the other two took a lot of effort, says Ghosh.
Each of the four women have different stories and issues. Natasha has a normal body type but the perception changes as soon as people realise that she is deaf. But Abha is in a wheelchair,and has to constantly negotiate how she is perceived, says Ghosh. On the other hand,Kantis father is the decision maker in the family and she has to work around that,as well as her own disability. I thought it was interesting that negotiating with the family for a financially independent woman is the same whether you are disabled or not. There is a very fine line where the stories converge and diverge, she says.
Ghosh asks the women about their body image,how they feel about relationships,and how they discovered their sexuality. We asked these people to pose in a way that made them feel sexy and it threw open new definitions. For instance,Sonali and her husband,Yogesh both are blind held hands through the shoot. Sonali said that they not be able to look into each others eyes,but they could hold hands. It shattered our assumptions of what can be considered sexy, says Ghosh.
And that is what she hopes to accomplish with the film. It will,hopefully,not just be liked by those who watch it,but will be a point of discussion amongst them.