“Hichki” shows us the special education dilemma plaguing Indian society

Bollywood movie, Hichki, which apart from showcasing great acting skills and cinematography, makes us think about our education system and the values we inculcate.

By Kalilur Rahman

There is a famous quote floating around social media, often attributed to Albert Einstein, “everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” While the attribution for the quote is questionable, the message seems very loud and clear.

I recently watched a Bollywood movie, ‘Hichki,’ which apart from showcasing great acting skills and cinematography, made me think about our education system and the values we inculcate in our children. The lead character in the movie suffers from Tourette’s syndrome, a very common neuropsychiatric disorder, which causes individuals to suffer from motor and perhaps even vocal tics.

The lead character often expresses how she feels she has two personalities, one which is her normal self, and another which is her disability, a side of her that she avoids as it is used as a discriminatory tool by others. A dialogue that resonated with me was, “I may have Tourette’s in my speech, but its not in my intellect.” Cinema has been a great medium through which movies such as “Dead Poets Society”, “Goodwill hunting”, “Finding Forrester”, “Mona Lisa Smile”, “To Sir With Love”, “Taare Zameen Par” have shown how ‘different’ individuals just need motivation, gudiance and support to succeed and should not be shunned by society.

Another thing that comes to mind is how we enforce thoughts, values, beliefs and reasons to merge with one’s own Tourette’s syndrome of mind. The challenge is that the mind, along with the growth in body weight, increases the weight of intellectual inability, garbage, and negative thoughts to gain prominence that results in various behaviours one emits.

Whenever we talk about effective teaching, individualising teaching to suit the needs of students is a key phenomenon that pops up. Focusing on holistic development helps maximize the individual capability, of student and instils creative confidence in them, giving the ability to tackle issues from unique perspectives.

I think there are certain key takeaways from this movie:

  • Be supportive without giving differential treatment (positive or negative)
  • Provide platforms to grow, excel and succeed
    • A key challenge in the Indian education system remains that there is a lack of facilities and services to help train and inspire brilliant minds. This results in a loss of optimal utilization of talent, thereby hindering innovation and growth.
  • Unlearn to learn more
    • Learn about the people you teach and coach, and understand their perspective, their backgrounds. This will help you learn more, grow more.
  • Be Protective of your team.
    • Everyone makes mistakes. As a leader of the pack or a teacher, coach or guide, you need to stand-up for the team.
  • Convert your weaknesses to your strength.
    • Remember the quote about the “Solomon Island” ritual followed for tree felling – as espoused in “Taare Zameen Par”. Treating team members or your students fair and unequally is a very good trait. It is
    • Every individual is unique and has different needs, strengths and weaknesses. As a result oriented society, we fail to focus on the bigger picture. How many of us focus on our team, friends, family or kid’s strengths and not worry too much about the weakness?

I think that every individual has a disability that they carry on throughout their lives. For some people, when this disability is external, we ostracize them, forgetting that we ourselves are not perfect, and we carry our own baggage even if its not visible. Humanity excels due to its genuine, empathetic and motivating nature. It is important to ensure that our education system has the same values, and we do not teach our children to solely score marks, but instead focus on their holistic development.  What we sow now becomes the saving grace for tomorrow, and an overhaul of the system will ensure a brighter future for our future generations.