food for thought
Can we contemplate living if our memory begins to falter and give way? Julianne Moore won the best actress Oscar this year for her heart wrenching portrayal of a professor’s brave fight against Alzheimer’s. As the disease eats into the professor’s memory, she tries to remember random words, uses a highlighter so as not to forget where she was in the middle of a speech, and administers herself a daily memory test of persol questions on her smart-phone. The film Still Alice has won worldwide acclaim for the honest but sensitive and compassiote telling of a difficult story, that too from the point of view of the central character. As if this was not enough, the Academy Awards this time has given recognition to another film also dealing with a degenerative disease, but quite different in character to Alzheimer’s. It is the moving story of the world renowned physicist Stephen Hawking who joined Cambridge as a healthy, active scholar and promptly falls in love. He soon receives shattering news — that he has ALS, the dreaded motor neuron disease. The disease progresses and he gradually loses the ability to walk, talk or move other parts of his body. But his genius takes wings; his extraordiry mind begins to grapple with the problems of space and time, and how the Universe was created. Despite the enormous challenge of portraying Hawking in The Theory of Everything, Eddie Redmayne romped home with the best actor Oscar for his towering performance. Such creditable efforts by Hollywood and their due recognition through Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globe, BAFTA, Critics’ Choice Movie and Academy Awards — in turn go a long way to spread public awareness about various degenerative and incurable diseases. Such portrayals of inspiring, real-life stories shed light on the suffering and loneliness of people afflicted with fearsome diseases, as well as the plight of their families. Whenever they wage a gritty, courageous battle against the disintegration of their bodies and persolities, it becomes a testament of hope, of abiding faith in the human spirit. If Hollywood taught us about autistic savants in Rain Man and cerebral palsy sufferers in My Left Foot, Bollywood has given us memorable films like Taare Zameen Par, Barfi, Black, Guzarish, Khamoshi and My me Is Khan, dealing with differently-abled people.