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Bhubaneswar, August 28: ‘Antarleena’, an Oriya film based on autism, was screened before a select audience at the Regional Medical Research Centre auditorium here Sunday. The film is the first such venture in Oriya.
Earlier, the film ‘Burfi’, which had Priyanka Chopra playing the autistic lead character, had become the first such movie in Hindi.
‘Antarleena’ is inspired by Gautam Panda, or Chinu, a 12-year-old who is autistic and undergoing therapy at the Autism Therapy Centre run by Manage Autism Now (MAN) Trust. Chinu writes for some prestigious dailies. The film, which has a touching story to tell, has been directed well by a young first-timer who “loves to experiment with different subjects”. Although the 2-hour-28-minute film may be slotted as parallel cinema, it is unique, entertaining and has the ingredients that make it worth watching even when it has no song-and-dance or action sequences and other masala.
The protagonist in the movie has also been named Chinu, who is also a writer. Chinu’s autobiography becomes a hit among readers and it helps him reconnect with his childhood friend. This friend goes on to become his lady love. Debutant director Manas Sahoo has done justice to the plot.
Swarnalata Mishra, the director of MAN Trust and mother of Gautam, said: “Families with autistic children will find solace watching this movie. I hope it will have an impact on the way the society views adults with autism. It is a well-made film; I really liked it.”
Swarnalata hopes her son, too, rises just as the protagonist in the film does and finds love.
Manas Sahoo said he chose to do the film after getting to know of the struggles such people have to undergo to lead life. “Our attempt was to make people understand the inner world of an autistic person and encourage viewers to recognise them.”
The director, too, had a tough time making the film. “It was very difficult to get someone to finance the project. Nobody was ready to invest on such a topic and on a film that did not have the regular commercial elements such as music and action. The actors, too, had trouble getting into the character of an autistic person. We had to train them through a workshop. Autism is a difficult subject, so it was a challenge for the actors to emote. We groomed them a lot to make them understand the feelings and emotions of autistic persons.”
Manas wants people to understand autism and has decided to screen the movie in all districts and villages of the state. “We have already talked with government authorities and will screen the movie everywhere. I want to send a message to the society,” he said.
The film produced by Alina Samal has been created in collaboration with Maskman and MAN Trust.