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5 performances that Hrithik Roshan needs to match in Kaabil

Hrithik Roshan, a capable actor, will have to measure up to some high standards when it comes to playing a disabled protagonist.

Shriram Iyengar

Sanjay Gupta's Kaabil puts Hrithik Roshan in risky territory. Not only is Hindi cinema's handsome leading man shedding his superhero image, but he is also playing a blind man trying to exact revenge from villains. While this is a welcome shift from his usual heroic turn, Hrithik Roshan will need to match up to some stellar performances that set the tone on portraying differently abled people on screen. Here are five performances that stand out:

1. Koshish (1970) 

This wonderful film starring Sanjeev Kumar and Jaya Bhaduri was among the first to portray the extraordinary life of ordinary people suffering disabilities. In many ways, Kaabil mirrors the story with its ordinary couple trying to overcome their disability to lead a happy life. The performances of Bhaduri (later to marry Amitabh Bachchan) and Kumar won praise, as did the sensitive nature of the tale. The film won the National award for Best Screenplay for Gulzar, and won Sanjeev Kumar the National award for Best Actor. 

2. Sparsh (1980)

This wonderful little film about a blind teacher in a blind school is an acting masterclass. Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi led from the front in this wonderful film by Sai Paranjpye. Apart from being a beautiful love story, the film was also hailed for Shah's realistic portrayal of the struggle of being a blind person in a seeing world. 

3. Black (2005) 

Based on the story of Helen Keller, Black had two landmark performances by Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherji. The film won both artistes the Filmfare awards for Best Performances, but it was the sensitivity, and the struggle with Alzheimer's and visual disability portrayed in the film that made it so stark and incisive. It is no surprise that the film was picked by Time magazine as one of the 10 best films of 2005. 

4. Paa (2009) 

Amitabh Bachchan is a tour de force of acting, and his performance as the progeria-affected child in R Balki's Paa was one of his best. The performance not only demanded a strenuous makeover from the veteran actor, but also forced him to tap into his inner child. If there is any performance that Hrithik Roshan should set as a benchmark, it is this. The balance between realistic portrayal and childlike enthusiasm set Bachchan apart in the film. 

5. Barfi! (2012) 

Anurag  Basu's heartwarming tale of love, expressed through the eyes of Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra's characters, won the hearts of film buffs in 2012. Playing a young woman suffering from autism, Chopra delivered a brilliant performance that anchored the film. Certainly one of the roles of the decade.