Ahaan stars Arif Zakaria, Niharika Singh, Plabita Borthakur, Rajit Kapur and Shilpa Mehta. It introduces Abuli Mamaji, a young man with Down Syndrome, in the titular role.
An endearing film about two men with different psychiatric and genetic conditions, Ahaan is set to start streaming on Netflix from May 15. The film’s story revolves around 25-five-year-old Aahan with Down Syndrome, and Ozzy, who is a self-indulgent person in his mid 40’s suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Ahaan, which initially released in multiplexes in March this year, is a slice of life film helmed by Nikhil Pherwani. It stars Arif Zakaria, Niharika Singh, Plabita Borthakur, Rajit Kapur, Shilpa Mehta, and introduces Abuli Mamaji, a young man with Down Syndrome, in the titular role.
Director Nikhil Pherwani says the main reason behind making Ahaan is the way differently-abled people are treated, and how he wants to change that. He said, “I have always observed how differently-abled individuals are treated differently, sometimes even less than human. This made me ponder about a few things – What goes on in the life of a young adult with intellectual disability? How do their parents cope with uncertainty about their child’s future? What happens to them once their parents and immediate family members are gone? Are they capable of leading an independent life? Intrigued and bothered by these thoughts, I met people with intellectual disabilities and also their parents to understand their worries. The research helped me understand their world better, and I knew without reservation that I must make a film exploring a humane story.”
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The journey of making Ahaan was not easy for Nikhil. He shares he met more naysayers than supporters for the film. “When I set out to make this movie, there were a lot of naysayers who told me not to make a film on Down Syndrome. They had many reservations. I was constantly discouraged. I was told no one would make this film and don’t waste your time. There were days when I was down and out. No man is an island. We all need that one person who believes us when no one else does, pushes us forward when we have hit a deadlock and picks us up when we are down. A special mention to my brother Abhishek who shared the dream and was just as determined to see the film through when no one believed in it. It was our dream to launch a heartbreaking, feel-good film under our banner Will Finds Way films, and I’m glad it will reach a wide audience now,” said Nikhil.
With Ahaan, Nikhil Pherwani aims to go beyond the trope. He said, “I didn’t want this to just be a special needs film. I wanted it to be beyond that. Usually, it’s convenient to follow the typical narrative. A character with a disability, his challenges and someone coming to his aid. The film has a set-up that could so easily have fallen into old and harmful tropes.”
“I wanted to tell an engaging, slice of life story, wherein one of the characters happens to have Down Syndrome. The idea was to maintain a quirky and positive tone,” Nikhil concluded.
Ahaan, a Will Finds Way Films production, streams on Netflix from May 15.
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