GIRL MOVES FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT
DNA, Bombay 19Th Feb 2006
She’ll never see what appears on the television screen. But 20-year-old Amrita Bhople, the country’s first blind TV newsreader, says she can sense it. Because for her, news reading is about connecting the right dots.
“I have always believed I can do this,” says Amrita, whose story is one of strong determination, grit and perseverance. “People think I can’t read news because I am blind,” says the MA English student bluntly. “But I am determined to prove them wrong.” “The blind grapple with an inferiority complex; I want to change it,” she says. Every evening Amrita walks into the newsroom of the local Bharat Cable Network (BCN). Her mother, Chhaya, dictates the news script which she writes in Braille. In an hour she is ready for the bulletin. She reads out the news with perfect diction and looks like any other newsreader. “In fact, better than most of our anchors,” says the MD of the company, Siraj Sheikh. “People expect the blind to opt for music and become music teachers. That is why I chose to be a newsreader, though I had music as a subject in BA,” says Amrita, who is a good singer and a debater. It is three years since she started reading news on BCN – both in Marathi and Hindi. “She has also matured as a news reader in all these years,” says Sheikh who selected Amrita after he saw a “spark” in her during auditions. “She struggled for six months, but did not give up. Now she is perfect.”
Amrita says the tragedy is not that she is blind, but that she is excluded from the mainstream. “I was hurt the most when the All India Radio, Nagpur, refused to even accept my application for the post of announcer for a programme aimed at the youth.” Says Chhaya, the driving force behind Amrita’s success: “She gets very disturbed with such rejections. We tell her that’s how the world is, and that you have to fight in every situation.” In the SSC examinations, Amrita made it to the merit list in the handicapped category. But in the HSC examinations, she studied harder and made it to the general category merit list. Her aunt Mamta Dharme, with whom Amrita and her mother stay, says: “The word impossible is not in her dictionary.”