Mumbai, July 10 (IANS) Can you visualise blind children learning tap dancing to perfection? This is exactly what one-time TV actor Kumar Bhatia has done in his forthcoming film 'Seven'. And he has signed on seven kids who are actually visually challenged.
'It's an idea turned into a film that I lived and worked with for four years,' said Bhatia, who played a junkie in Doordarshan's soap 'Subah'.
Bhatia ventured into direction with 'Dhoondte Reh Jaaoge' in 1998 and Naseeruddin Shah played the lead in the film that didn't do too well at the box office. But he is now hopeful that 'Seven' will finding a viable market, going by the accolades films like Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Black' and Aamir Khan's 'Taare Zameen Par' received.
'My film doesn't treat the children as physically challenged, marginalised children, but as part of the mainstream. When the idea of training seven blind kids to tap dance came to me, I decided I'd make it with kids who were really blind.
'I visited several schools hunting for them until I came to the Happy Home School For The Blind. What I saw there changed my life. The children were so happy, so well adjusted to their routine and not at all defeated by their deficiency.'
Out of all the kids that the director met, he chose Gaurav, Mukesh, Rahul, Sanjay, Pradeep, Saif and Shrikant. Two of them suffered a terminal illness.
'So we had to exercise that extra bit of precaution with them. They're all between the ages of 6 and 10 - all very bright and natural performers. The school was initially hesitant to let the kids undergo the gruelling experience of facing the camera. But once my intentions were made clear, the kids became a part of my extended family.'
It took Bhatia a year to find the suitable children.
'Then it took another year to teach them to tap dance. By the end of our workshops, the blind kids could 'see' every frame in every shot. They performed completely oblivious of their handicap.'
Besides the children, 'Seven' features an impressive cast comprising Lilette Dubey, Kay Kay Menon and Makrand Deshpande. Farouq Shaikh plays the narrator while Nauheed Cyrusi is the one who teaches the children tap dance. Bhatia himself plays a brief role.
'It has been a learning experience. And I hope 'Seven' gets an audience that would appreciate all the effort that has gone into it.'