In the 48th year of IFFI which also has a section on ‘Accessible India’ under which two films ‘Secret Superstar’ and ‘Hindi Medium’ are being screened for the Visual and hearing impaired. Saksham – a Delhi-based organisation has added audio description and subtitles in these movies to make movies accessible to all including people who cannot see or hear.
Speaking at a press conference, managing founder trustee of Saksham, Rummi Seth said: “This project was started in 2005. If you sit and watch a film with your eyes closed, what would you hear, except dialogues? In some of the movies in between the scenes there are no dialogues. For example: In Bhaag Milkha Bhaag a couple of scenes does not have dialogues so a visually impaired person won’t know what is happening. Therefore, to make such movies accessible we have a voice-over and a scriptwriter Narendra Joshi and we all sit and decide as to what needs to be written to fill that space.”
Founder trustee of Saksham, Dipendra Manocha said: “This accessibility of movies is all about inclusion. As a blind person, the question to me is do we have the right to go to the movie halls like everybody else or not. If we have the right then we are entitled to use every facility available to us. Physically challenged people may have some kind of limitation in terms of walking, sitting, speaking, etc. This is an initiative to help such people participate and be part of the active society. This effort of accessible movies is just a step towards that direction.”
Explaining the technical challenges while working on the concept Narendra Joshi said: “The challenge is to create emotions in the spaces between the dialogues for the disabled ones to keep going with the flow while watching a movie. We have around 300-400 spaces during the entire movie watching experience. In three or five seconds, you need to figure out what is the important part that would help a visually impaired to know the scene better.”
Joshi further informed that the script of the entire movie needs to be reworked once the entire process is done.
Member Secretary, Sanjay Centre for Special Education, Taha Haaziq said: “I had seen Secret Superstar movie before but when I saw it with audio description, I did not only see but also felt the movie. So that is the difference of making it accessible.”
Audio description is a method to add audio narration describing what is being shown on the screen. This description is added in the silent gap between dialogues and it’s extremely important for visually challenged people or those with low vision and helps them appreciate all parts of the movie.