Outrage from the disabled community over TV serial promo
The videos show the hero, who uses a wheelchair, being called ‘otta kaalan’, sparking criticism from the community
Promo videos of Star Vijay’s latest serial Aranmanai Kili has irked the disabled community and activists. The videos show the hero, who uses a wheelchair, being called ‘otta kaalan’, sparking criticism from the community.
“It is important to view each word with context as they sometimes can be a reflection of reality. But the phrase ‘otta kaalan’ is extremely problematic and a shockingly crude way to address a differently-abled person,” says Dr Aiswarya Rao, a pediatrician and a disability activist.
She adds that there is a great taboo when it comes to differently-abled people in relationships. “At a point when people are beginning to be aware, the portrayal of a ‘forced marriage’ of a woman with a differently-abled man is quite troublesome,” she says.
Salesh Dipak Fernando, a writer who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, also finds the phrase derogatory. “Nobody uses that term to describe a differently-abled person, especially family members. Even in a serial where the hero is a differently-abled person, if there is lack of empathy then it fizzles out as more of a marketing gimmick than an actual attempt to highlight the plight of the disabled,” he says.
The story will iron out the insensitive remarks with positive comments, argues C Gerald, fiction department, Star Vijay. “The reference wasn’t meant to degrade anyone. The serial is about how successful the hero is and how the girl helps him after marriage. It is just a story and, just as in real life, not every character would be sensitive to the hero’s plight.”