Disabled Rights Group (DRG), led by disability rights activist Javed Abidi, on Tuesday condemned “Wazir” director Bejoy Nambiar’s remarks on “limiting” megastar Amitabh Bachchan’s persona in a wheelchair. The film’s team has apologised for hurting sentiments, if any.
DRG demanded an apology for Nambiar’s “disparaging” statement wherein he spoke about Amitabh’s portrayal as a paralysed chess grandmaster.
Nambiar had said: “Right from the beginning, we knew that the protagonist had to be on a wheelchair. Casting Mr. Bachchan, who has got such a strong persona, and limiting him in a wheelchair, was a big task for us to get used to.”
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This has spelt trouble for Nambiar.
DRG on Tuesday issued a statement that Nambiar’s comments are “disparaging and extremely condescending towards people with disabilities, and highlights complete lack of knowledge, extremely archaic and derogatory perspectives that he has on disability”.
On their part, the team of “Wazir” — Nambiar, as well as the film’s co-writers Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Abhijat Joshi — has apologised, but also clarified that “no malice” was ever intended.
Nambiar told IANS: “I have no clue (about the issue)…that’s the character he’s (Amitabh is) playing… what is so wrong in what I’m saying?”
Joshi said: “Absolutely nothing offensive was meant, that can be assured. There’s not one percent malice towards anyone”, while Chopra said: “How can he have malice? Our character is that (paralysed). Amitabh Bachchan is playing that. We don’t mean malice.”
Chopra, who is also a producer of the movie, said they “apologise if somebody’s sentiments are hurt”.
DRG’s convenor Javed Abidi, a wheelchair user for over 30 years, had said that he was “extremely shocked to read Nambiar’s statement”, which reflected a “regressive image of a person with disability in his mind”.
He expressed hope that “no matter what, from now onwards and upto the release of the film and beyond, in all the publicity and promotion of the movie, acute care must be taken that this kind of derogatory language is not used ever again”.
“Wazir”, which also stars Farhan Akhtar and Aditi Rao Hydari, is revenge saga and a thriller with a unique friendship at its core. It is releasing on Friday.