16 Bollywood Films That Centred Around Rare Diseases Or Disorders
Posted On: 25 Dec 2021 | Last Updated : 09 Mar 2022 | Views : 865
Whenever we talk about Bollywood films, we think of a romantic movie packed with songs, dances, action sequences, thrilling plot twists, and a lot more. However, once in a while we get to see some mainstream movies that are a lot different from standard Bollywood movies. These movies attempt to entertain as well as educate their audience with their unique concept and plot. Today, we’ll talk about Hindi movies based on rare diseases or disorders. While dealing with such a sensitive topic, filmmakers need to be creative to make people aware of a rare disease/disorder and also show utmost carefulness to not displease anyone with their content. A movie that deals with any kind of disease or disorder not only shows the physical discomfort it causes to the patient but also gives a glance at the emotional trauma a person suffering from such a disease goes through. This creates a sense of empathy in the hearts of the watchers; thus, these movies also help in restoring kindness in society. Let’s look at the top 16 Bollywood films based on rare diseases or disorders:
1. Raat Aur Din (1967) – Multiple Personality Disorder
Satyen Bose’s 1967 film Raat Aur Din was one of the first films to talk about Multiple Personality Disorder. In a time when people were full of superstitions, the movie tried to educate people about this mental condition, where the person tends to have two or more separate personalities. Each personality has its own history, traits, believes, likes and dislikes. Often two different identities are unaware of the presence of each other, which creates gaps in the memory, and the patient also experiences hallucinations. Unaware of such a mental condition, people often believed that the person is under Voodoo, which often used to make the patient’s condition worse because of no proper medication. Raat Aur Din was Nargis’ last film and also one of her best screen performances. This thriller drama follows the story of a married woman named Varuna who is diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder, and slips to her alter ego Peggy, a stylish sophisticate who drinks, smokes and spends time dancing on loud music in the clubs. The movie journeys through the disturbing past of Varuna and makes everyone aware of the root cause of her condition.
2. Black (2005) – Alzheimer’s
Sanjay Leela Bansali’s 2005 film Black narrates the story of deaf-and-blind girl Michelle (Rani Mukerji) and her relationship with her teacher Debraj Sahay (Amitabh Bachchan). Michelle loses her eyesight and hearing at a young age and grows up as a violent and uncontrollable child. However, her life changes when an elderly teacher named Debraj comes into her life. He helps Michelle to grow up into an expressive woman, who goes on to pursue her graduation degree despite her disability with the help of Debraj. She struggles to gain a degree, but things get worse when Debraj develops Alzeihmer’s disease. Alzeihmer’s disease is a brain disorder that destroys your memory and ability to think and eventually, the patient is unable to carry out simplest tasks. Debraj’s condition gets worse and he even forgets Michelle, and Michelle is left alone to deal with her problems. Many years later, when she finally graduates, she visits Debraj in the mental hospital, who has lost his memory of the past and even forgotten how to speak. The movie gives a glimpse of the ugly side of the disease, and shows how worse it could get.
3. Taare Zameen Par (2007) – Dyslexia
Taare Zameen Par is a social drama that explores the life of an 8-year-old dyslexic child, Ishaan (Darsheel Safary). Dyslexia is a learning disorder that creates difficulty in reading and inability to identify letters and words as this disorder affects the areas of the brain that process language. Ishaan has trouble following school. Ishaan’s parents and teachers, unaware of his condition, assume him to hate learning. Frustrated with his failure in school, Ishaan’s father decides to send him to a boarding school. Being alone, he sinks into depression and anxiety. However, his condition finally improves when a new art teacher, Ram Shankar Nikumbh (Aamir Khan), understands Ishaan’s condition and helps him to improve. The movie surely is one of the top 10 Bollywood movies about rare diseases, which not only entertained but educated parents of the disorder/condition that they must have confused with the laziness or ignorance of the child.
4. Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007) – Dissociative Identity Disorder
The 2007 psychological horror comedy drama, Bhool Bhulaiyaa is the remake of the 1993 Malayalam film Manichitrathazhu. This critically acclaimed movie was a huge commercial success. It revolves around Avni Chaturvedi (Vidya Balan), an archaeologist, who returns with her husband Siddharth Chaturvedi (Shiney Ahuja) to his native village from the United States. They start living in Siddharth’s ancestral palace which is assumed to be haunted by the spirit of Manjulika, an exceptional dancer from Bengal. Avni falls in love with the palace and is fascinated by Manjulika’s story. Things take a turn when the family members start experiencing paranormal activities and presence of Manjulika in the palace. It is then revealed that Avni is suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder. Dissociative Identity Disorder, which was earlier known as Multiple Identity Disorder, is the mental condition which involves having one or more alternate identities/personalities, and often these personalities are unaware of the existence of another, which also creates gaps in the memory of the person. At one point, Avni forgets her own self and completely transforms into Manjulika. The movie very well portrays how the disease affects the person and educates the audience about the necessity to take care of their mental health, as even a small unresolved past trauma could take the shape of a much bigger mental disorder.
5. Ghajini (2008) – Anterograde Amnesia
A. R. Murugadoss’s 2008 action thriller film Ghajini is the remake of his own 2005 Tamil film of the same name. The movie revolves around a rich businessman Sanjay Singhania (Aamir Khan), who falls in love with an advertisement model Kalpana Shetty (Asin), who is unaware of Sanjay being a big businessman. One day, Sanjay decides to tell the truth about his real identity to Kalpana. However, things take a turn when Kalpana is stabbed by a criminal kingpin Ghajini Dharmatma (Pradeep Rawat) after she frees a group of girls from a sex trafficking ring carried out by him. Sanjay reaches Kalpana's house to find her stabbed, and Ghajini hits him in the head with an iron rod. This injury leads to anterograde amnesia. Anterograde Amnesia is a condition in which a person is unable to create new memories or retain new information after the event that might have caused amnesia. Post that incident, Sanjay loses his memory every 15 minutes and uses photographs, notes and tattoos on his body to remember everything. Despite his condition, he sets out to avenge his girlfriend’s death and kill Ghajini.
6. U Me Aur Hum (2008) – Alzheimer’s Disease
Ajay Devgn made his directorial debut with the 2008 film U Me Aur Hum. This romantic drama follows the story of a young man named Ajay (Ajay Devgn), who meets and falls in love with the barmaid Piya (Kajol) while he’s on a cruise vacation with his friends. The two-start dating and then get married. Soon after their marriage, Piya is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease while she’s pregnant. Alzheimer’s disease is the brain disorder that leads to loss of memory. Initially, the person has a hard time remembering recent events, however, eventually it destroys memory of the person and his/her thinking skills and the person may even find it difficult to carry out simplest tasks. Despite her condition, Ajay never stops loving her. When their baby is born, her condition becomes dangerous for their baby and Ajay is forced to institutionalize her for their baby’s sake. However, Ajay couldn’t live without her and decides to bring her back. The movie did a great job in showing the reality of the disease and the emotional trauma that the family of the patient goes through when he/she forgets them and everyone else.
7. Paa (2009) – Progeria
R. Balki’s comedy drama Paa is inspired by the 1996 Hollywood film Jack. The movie follows the story of a 12-year-old creative and intelligent boy Auro (Amitabh Bachchan), who is suffering from a rare genetic disorder progeria. Progeria, also known as Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, is an extremely rare disorder in which the person ages faster than usual and appears much older than their actual age. Auro lives with his single mother Vidya (Vidya Balan), who is a gynecologist, and his grandmother. Despite his condition, Auro leads a happy life and is loved by everyone. Amol Arte (Abhishek Bachchan), a young politician, who is on a mission to prove that politics is not a bad thing. Auro meets Amol when he visits his school as a chief guest on the occasion of a competition ‘visionary of India’. Soon after this encounter, Auro learns that Amol is his biological father who left his pregnant mother because he didn’t want a child at that point of time. When Amol comes to know about the truth, he tries to reconcile with Vidya, who is still hurt with his initial rejection. Auro makes it his life’s mission to reunite his parents. However, Auro’s health starts to deteriorate because of his condition. The person suffering from progeria hardly makes it to their late teens. Auro is on his death-bed and his both parents come together for the first time and promise him that they’ll marry. Auro dies content calling them Maa and Paa. The movie got a warm reception from the critics and Amitabh Bachchan earned his third National Film Award for Best Actor for his performance in the movie.
8. My Name is Khan (2010) – Asperger’s Syndrome
The 2010 romantic drama directed by Karan Johar My Name is Khan follows the story of Rizwan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan), a Muslim man suffering from Asperger’s syndrome. Asperger’s syndrome is a form of Autism, which is a development disorder. A person suffering from this disorder has a difficult time relating to others socially, and their behavior and thinking patterns could be repetitive. Rizwan grew up with his brother and mother in Mumbai before moving to the United States. There, he marries Mandira (Kajol) and becomes step father to Mandira’s son Sameer (Arjun Aujila). However, their happy life is disrupted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and some of Sameer’s seniors in school attack him. Sameer dies eventually. Mandira is shocked with her son’s death and blames Rizwan for it, as she believes that Sameer died because his step-father was Muslim. When she sarcastically asks Rizwan to tell the President of the United States that his name is Khan and he is not a terrorist, he takes it literally and sets out to embark the journey to meet the President and give him the message.
9. Karthik Calling Karthik (2010) – Schizophrenia
Vijay Lalwani’s psychological thriller drama Karthik Calling Karthik revolves around an introverted man named Karthik Narayan (Farhan Akhtar), who lacks confidence and feels stuck in his job. Frustrated with his life’s situation Karthik decides to commit suicide. However, just as he is about to end his life, he gets a phone call from a person who has the exact same voice as him and says that he is Karthik. He starts getting calls every day at 5:00 am and these calls become his life guide. When Karthik reveals about these calls to his psychiatrist, the caller gets angry and tells Karthik that he’ll bring him down. Much later, it is revealed that Karthik is suffering from schizophrenia, a rare yet serious brain disorder in which the person may have difficulty in relating to reality because of the hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, etc. which are the common symptoms of this disorder. The caller was none other than Karthik himself. His phone has a feature of recording messages and playing them at 5:00 am. He himself used to record the messages at night and would wake up to listen to his own calls. The film was critically acclaimed and Farhan Akhtar garnered praises of both critics and audience for his performance in the movie.
10. Guzaarish (2010) – Quadriplegia
The 2010 romantic drama Guzaarish, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, narrates the story of a former magician, Ethan Mascarenhas, who is now quadriplegic. Quadriplegia refers to the paralysis caused by an illness or the injury which leads to paralysis of the body from neck down. It is caused by an injury to the spinal cord that contains nerves which controls the movement of the limbs and other parts of the body. Fourteen years back Ethan had an accident during his magic show and the injury caused during the accident was the reason for his condition. Ethan becomes a radio jockey and spreads laughter and hope with his witty humor. He had been immobilized because of the spinal injury and was taken care of by his nurse Sofia (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) for the past 12 years. On the fourteenth anniversary of his accident, he decides to file an appeal to the court for mercy killing. Meanwhile, a young magic enthusiast named Omar (Aditya Roy Kapur) comes to Ethan to learn magic and Ethan decides to pass his legacy on to Omar. His plea is rejected by court but Sofia promises Ethan that she will help him with his euthanasia. The movie takes us through the emotional journey of a victim of quadriplegia, who is fed up with his life and complete dependency on others, and now all he wants is to die peacefully and be freed from all pains.
11. Barfi! (2012) – Autism
Anurag Basu’s romantic comedy drama Barfi revolves around a young optimistic man named Murphy ‘Barfi’ Johnson (Ranbir Kapoor), who was born deaf and mute. Barfi is a troublemaker and plays pranks on innocent people. He meets a beautiful educated woman Shruti Ghosh (Ileana D’Cruz), and falls in love with her. Shruti too falls in love with Barfi but choses a rich guy over Barfi and breaks all contacts with him. Meanwhile, Barfi tries to make money by kidnapping a wealthy heiress and his childhood friend Jhilmil Chatterjee (Priyanka Chopra), who is autistic. Autism is a broad range of conditions that is characterized by difficulty with social skills and the person has repetitive behavior and thinking patterns, and often faces difficulty in speech and nonverbal communications. While on the run, Barfi and Jhilmil form a special bond and find solace in each other’s company. The film was praised by critics and well received by the audience, and went on to earn several awards in different categories. Despite having physically disabled title characters, the film wasn’t about a disability or disorder but gives a message that everyone has a right to fall in love and to be loved.
12. Margarita with a Straw (2015) – Cerebral Palsy
Shonali Bose’s coming-of-age romantic drama Margarita with a Straw stars Kalki Koechlin in the role of title character, Laila Kapoor, a teenager with cerebral palsy. Cerebral means something related to the brain, while palsy means difficulty or problem with using muscles. Cerebral Palsy is a disorder that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. Laila is an aspiring writer, who studies at Delhi University, and is overjoyed to receive a scholarship for a semester’s study at New York University. She moves there with her mother (Revathi). She meets a young activist named Khanum (Sayani Gupta), a blind girl of Pakistani-Bangladeshi descent, and the two fall in love with each other. Laila is still confused about her sexual orientation and her troubles doubles when her mother is diagnosed with colon cancer. Shonali Bose, the writer and director of the movie, conceived the idea of the film during a conversation with her cousin Malini Chib, disability rights activist suffering from Cerebral Palsy, who told Shonali about her desire to have a normal sex life.
13. Hichki (2018) – Tourette Syndrome
The 2018 Rani Mukerji starrer comedy-drama Hichki is based on American motivational speaker Brad Cohen’s autobiography Front of the Class. The movie follows the story of a young aspiring teacher named Naina Mathur (Rani Mukerji), who faces rejection from schools because she suffers from Tourette syndrome, a condition of the nervous system which causes people to have tics. Tics are the sudden twitches or movements, which could be blinking, coughing, sniffing, facial movements, etc. People suffering from Tourette syndrome find it difficult to control these tics. After her continuous struggle to find a job as a teacher, Naina finally gets accepted by St. Notker’s School, her Alma mater, to teach students of class 9F that comprises students from slums. The class was created to provide education to underprivileged to fill government prescribed quota. Naina has a hard time controlling the students but she doesn’t give up and decides to turn her weakness into strength. This critically acclaimed movie is surely one of the best Bollywood movies based on rare diseases. The movie not only educates the viewers about the disease, but shows the glimpse of difficulties and emotional trauma a person with Tourette syndrome goes through because of their uncontrollable tics.
14. Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota (2018) – Congenital Analgesia
The 2018 action-comedy drama Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota follows the story of a young man Suryaanshu ‘Surya’ Sampat (Abhimanyu Dasani) who is suffering from congenital analgesia. Congenital Analgesia or Congenital insensitivity to pain is a rare condition which causes the inability to feel any physical pain in the body. The condition is known to be really dangerous, as feeling pain is important and many times people suffering from this condition die in childhood due to injuries or illness going unnoticed. Surya decides to use this rare condition to his benefit and learns martial arts and uses his skills to help his idol, Karate Mani (Gulshan Devaiah).
15. Bala (2019) – Alopecia
Amar Kaushik’s satirical drama Bala stars Ayushmann Khurrana in the title role of Balmukund ‘Bala’ Shukla. Bala is a young man hailing from Kanpur, and suffers from Alopecia. Alopecia is a medical term for baldness. This condition is often seen in males. A person suffering from Alopecia may prematurely start losing hair from some or all areas of the body resulting in bald spots in their body and scalp. The movie depicts how premature baldness may lead to lack of confidence in the person and creates a social pressure on them causing anxiety and state of fear in them. The movie is based on the original story by Bengali filmmaker Pavel Bhattacharjee about the life of Rohit Sood. We see the title character of the movie, Bala, who faces constant rejections for marriage because of his baldness, which shows the reality of society that values outer beauty over other accomplishments of the person.
16. Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara (2005) - Dementia
Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara is a 2005 film directed by Jahnu Barua starring Anupam Kher and Urmila Matondkar in the lead roles. Anupam Kher who played a retired Hindi professor suffers from Dementia, a disorder that leads to impairments in memory, thinking, and behaviour, which negatively impacts a person's disability to carry out daily activities. The character portrayed by Anupam Kher believes he killed Gandhi by accidentally playing with a toy gun that had real bullets. The critically acclaimed film didn't just highlight Dementia in a sensible manner but also happens to be one of Anupam Kher's best performances to date.