While studying in San Francisco, I saw an interpreter signing an address by the President of the university. In all my 28 years of life in India I had never ever witnessed any scene like that! This experience was truly new and intriguing for me. I was a bit disturbed and very inquisitive at the same time to know more about why India had no acknowledgement of this language and the community called, DEAF. That was one of the trigger points to take up this topic.
Shooting a film about the deaf community in Mumbai - the city that never sleeps, was in itself an interesting paradox for me. But I was keen to explore their life ‘Beyond silence’ amidst the ‘noise’ all around.
During one of my prep sessions, I saw myself amidst fifteen young people who were all deaf and busy ‘talking’ (via sign language). There was absolutely no sound, forget noise! After ten minutes or so that silence became deafening! I was yearning for somebody to talk. For the first time it occurred to me that I am 'Hearing'!
One of the most important revelations during the making the documentary was that there lies polarity between the hearing and deaf community in India. The hearing people feel that deaf people are handicap and are keen to make them 'Hearing.’ The Hearing parents and the schoolteachers want deaf children to learn to lip read and ultimately talk like 'normal' hearing people. Deaf people, on the contrary, feel that they have every right to maintain their deaf identity and are proud of their 'deaf hood.' They hope to give birth to future deaf generations. They hate hearing aids and cochlear implants. The hearing parents feel unhappy and sad about their loss of hearing, but the deaf children themselves do not self-pity themselves and hope their entire family was deaf!
Beyond Silence is a documentary made with an intention of understanding these hidden voices in their own “words, language, and culture.” It is a humble attempt to acknowledge the existence of a living, competent, and thinking deaf community that has the ability to communicate “beyond silence.” I hope the exhibition of this documentary helps deaf community in India to streng then their fight for their basic rights, like the recognition and adoption of sign language in schools and in the community at large; awareness about deaf culture and motivating the entertainment media in the country to adopt captioning.