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Sparsh (1980) - (Movies To See Before You Die - Drama / Biographical)

07 Nov, 2007 | Movies To See Before You Die / Drama

Hindi cinema has rarely ventured into the world of differently abled (blinds to be specific), featuring them as the central character of films conceived as a thoughtful journey into their world, focusing on their inner feelings and interpretations of the things around.
Thrillers have been there presenting a blind hero going for his revenge challenging the people with sight or emotional dramas have been made largely presenting them as objects of pity in either the lead or supporting roles. However, there is only one film in the history of Hindi cinema, which not only takes an insightful look into the world of blinds and their basic thought process towards life, but also narrates an unusual love story with an unparalleled sense of responsibility and understanding that simply serves as a benchmark to filmmakers both within the country and world over.
The precious timeless gem is writer-director Sai Pranjpye’s SPARSH (meaning Touch) released in 1980 and you will be amazed to know the issues it beautifully brings forward along with the heartfelt, emotional love story of a visually impaired principal of a blind school and a charming, lonely widow with a normal sight, as a visiting teacher looking for her own path in life. Without being preachy, the film strongly presents the viewpoint of a blind person and how he wishes to live with self-respect and dignity without becoming the victim of any sympathetic love or pity.
Reportedly based on the character of Mr. Mittal, the headmaster of the Blind Relief Associaion in New Delhi, the film was majorly shot in the blind school and has a poetically layered narration which repeatedly forces you stop for a while and watch/study your own thoughts on the socially relevant subject. It makes you witness the complexities of relationships the differently abled people face while interacting with the normal persons and then how they communicate among themselves with sheer love and a blessed simplicity. 
More importantly focusing on the school education of the blind kids, SPARSH makes you realize and understand the difference in the methods adapted to educate them and the limited resources available for the same. In fact, it’s the sequences featuring the kids and their classes/activities in the school while studying, playing, eating food and more (like all normal kids), that makes SPARSH a truly memorable film giving us an enlightening experience of life like never before. For instance you will just adore the kids collective chant “Hai Re Kaisi Uljhan, Phir Se Aaloo Baingan” while taking their meals and then would love watching the so thoughtful and appreciable gesture of one sighted boy, who while fighting with his blind friend, closes his eyes with a cloth in order to make it an equal fight. 
SPARSH has many such wonderfully written and executed sequences capable of touching your heart along with the performances that can easily be quoted among the career best acts of every single person associated with the film. Playing the blind principal, Naseeruddin Shah is just unbelievable in his movement of eyeballs, the body mannerisms, the walk with the stick and the way he responds to every sound and expression in his conversations with others. The actor himself remembers it as his most fulfilling performance, truly living the character beyond imagination. 
As the lonely widow, Shabana Azmi makes you believe in her pain both before and after meeting Naseer and her experiences in the blind school. She is just outstanding and equally impressive in their scenes together. Om Puri makes his presence felt performing along Naseer in a short supporting role and the same can be said by the other supporting performers including Sudha Chopra, Mohan Joshi and more. 
Produced by Basu Bhattacharya, SPARSH won three National Awards as Best Feature Film in Hindi, Best Actor (Naseeruddin Shah) and Best Screenplay (Sai Pranjpye). As reported, it got delayed for a few years but then went on to become one of the most precious creations of Indian Cinema post reaching the end-users. Sanjeev Kumar was said to be the first choice of the director who then approached Naseer for the lead role and a few years later Sanjeev also decently played the role of a blind betrayed husband in an crime thriller QATL (highly inspired from the West).
Returning back to SPARSH, brilliantly supported by an apt cinematography, background score and soothing music, this is one of those rare, blessed creations made straight from the heart which essentially need to be seen to experience the lesser known heights achieved by our own Indian cinema. To be honest, I strongly feel that Hindi cinema lost a lot of meaningful classics as Sai Pranjpye didn’t continue making films for her own reasons.
So if you haven’t seen it yet, then make sure you watch it as your next, since continuing living without having seen SPARSH will be like willfully not attending one of the most valuable classes of life teaching you the right lessons.
Story, Screenplay, Dialogues and Direction : Sai Paranjpe
Starring : Naseeruddin Shan, Shabana Azmi, Sudha Chopra & Mohan Joshi.
Music : Kanu Roy / Lyrics : Indu Jain

(Updated September 2018)

(Note : At the time of updating the article the film was easily available on YouTube)

Tags : Sparsh (1980) Must Watch Classic Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Movies To See Before You Die, The best acts of Naseeruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Om Puri, Kanu Roy, Sai Pranjpye, Top 10 Indian Movies, Hindi movies on Blind persons.
07 Nov 2007 / Comment ( 2 )
pravin s. pendkalkar

Fantastic movie, I remember when I was in school all our school teachers went to see this movie. When I saw the movie I was really impressed.

Naseeruddin is outstanding.

The one scene which you mentioned was very good I have seen in Kaalicharan where shatughan sinha after seeing danny that he do not have one leg and the fight should be equal shatrughan Sinha ties a cloth on his leg.

Bobby Sing

Yes, It is the unarguably one of the most beautiful and powerful movies from Bollywood.
And Thanks for your valuable time and comment.

Keep Visiting.......Cheers!

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