Watching a movie as a wheelchair user in India
Monday, September 5, 2011
I went to watch a movie today at PVR Saket. The auditorium had an accessible route till the entrance. We had seats in the centre of the second last row. I being a tetraplegic never ever sat anywhere else except my wheelchair and usually whenever I go to watch a movie I just park my chair in the aisle and continue sitting on it but here at PVR Saket they had a different rule. They wanted me to transfer onto the audi seat and they were happy to assist me in shifting. Since I had no options, I abided and took their assistance to shift onto the regular seat while my chair was taken away and returned at the end of the show when I wanted to leave.
I didn’t mind being inconvenienced as the ticket at PVR Saket was only Rs 50/- while at the DT Cinema at the Promenade that I frequented it was Rs 250/-. But that was me only on this one instance. If one was to evaluate the accessibility for disabled people at cinema theatres one will be appalled.
Without making the post to technical I must point out that there are a number of people on wheelchairs cannot sit on anywhere else except in their wheelchair because of their impairment. For such people going to PVR Saket will be a waste, as they will not be ‘allowed’ (infringing on their constitutional rights).
Not one cinema theatre in India recognises the special needs of disabled viewers who may have physical, sensory or cognitive impairments. Even if one managed to enter the hall there are no designated space to park a wheelchair and one has to either shift to regular seat or sit on one’s wheelchair either next to the front row or precariously blocking the aisle space. I myself have watched several movies parked alone in one corner away from my friends and family. Of course special needs of sensory impaired persons is not even known by the cinema management. This is again discriminatory, as disabled viewers are treated not at power with other views.
The sad part is that there are no laws in our country that can protect the rights of disabled people against this discrimination especially from private service providers. The attitude today is that as a disabled person I should be thankful to the service provider to tolerate us and for us to expect access/convenience/equal dignity and service as non-disabled viewer is being over ambitious.
written by Shivani Gupta