All of us would still remember the movie Guzaarish where Hrithik Roshan immaculately plays the role of Ethan a former magician and a quadriplegic, pleading for euthanasia. But that was in reel life. Coffee Bytes caught up with real life hero who unlike Ethan has not given up on life and is teeming with life and positivity. Jitendra Biswal is not only an actor but also an activist and motivational counsellor whose undying resolve makes you think about a different aspect of life.
Congratulations on being awarded Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award 2017 by Rajiv Gandhi Forum of Odisha. How do you feel on receiving this recognition?
I feel extremely humbled and grateful on receiving this award. I have always been an advocate of inclusive living and view India as the country for all without any discrimination. Few months back, I had started the silent protest in Bhubaneswar “ Not In My Name”, where my appeal was to raise the conscience of people who believe in equality, human dignity and decency. This award vindicates my stand for the cause in the society.
You are quadriplegic. How did this misfortune happen?
I was born on September 2nd, 1971 in Bargarh, Odisha. When I was 7 months old, I was down with measles. A wrong dosage of antibiotics administered by a doctor, paralysed my four limbs. Well you can notice, I’m bound to a wheelchair with an attendant. Neither can I stand up or walk nor can I move my hands or legs.
Did the disability affect your academic career?
No, not at all. Disability is all in the mind. If one has sheer determination and will power, one can easily overcome the disability. Despite all odds, I have to my credit a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Law, a Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Applications and a Certification in Business Management. My father has been a major motivating person and I remember him saying that I was the best among the siblings.
What made you venture into the celluloid world?
A disabled person leads a special life full of challenges. I wanted to portray the bottled up emotions of a disabled person to reach out to a larger audience. So, movies was a better option as it had a wider reach and the audio visual medium has an tremendous impact on people. I thought it was time to bring about a positive change in the thought process via social awakening and awareness. I scripted and acted in a movie “Two Desires and A Dream” in 2016 and the other yet to be released musical thriller “ Wajood ”in 2017.
You created a video “My Attitude, My Life Despite My Disability” in May 2015. How was the public response?
I had created this video and launched it in YouTube. The video was made from my still images accompanied by text messages and voiceover. I was extremely surprised that it went viral in social media.
Please share any memorable moment while shooting the film“ Two Desires and A Dream”?
There was a moment during the making of the film that I would definitely like to share. It was a romantic scene to be shot in a helicopter. I have breathing problems so circumstances weren’t friendly. The medical unit didn’t give their consent. Due to my passion and will power I fought against all odds. The scene was successfully shot after a good number of retakes.
Being a role model, what is your take on the facilities available in Odisha?
Lot of differently abled people have created a name for themselves by overcoming the impairment. But on this note, I would like to opine that the initiatives taken by State Govt for disabled people are not very encouraging. The State Govt should lay more emphasis on disability friendly infrastructure, education and employability rather on providing monthly disability pension.
How did you get into Motivational Counseling and Astro Analysis service?
I sit on my wheel chair and communicate with the world. I have overseas clients who want a good listener. I hear them patiently and advise them accordingly. This is how the motivational counseling service began. Prior venturing into cinema, I got into too many things like LPG gas agency, Forex trading etc. Once when the market fell I suffered huge losses and had to repay by selling one of my properties. During this tough phase I met many astrologers with unsatisfying results that made me research and analyse the astrological science..
And lastly, any message to the readers or world at large through Coffee Bytes?
We are differently abled but that does not stop us from doing anything.