Having sensitive people around you is a bliss .They sense your feelings accurately, give you a helping hand. They spread UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND HUMANITY in some or the other was. Vision is an Art of seeing what is invisible to others. This is a story of a man has who has such Vision.
Swagat Thorat called as Braille Man Of India is the first person to start India’s Registered Fortnightly Newspaper called ‘Sparshadnyan’ in Braille script for blind. On 15th February 2018 the Newspaper, completed a successful 10 years.
He is also a DIRECTOR and WRITER who has directed, plays for blind One of his plays on freedom ‘Swatantryachi Yashogatha‘ has a place in Guinness book of world record. This play had 88 visually challenged artists, working together cohesively and the world’s first drama where blind people performed in such a large numbers.
It doesn’t stop there. He is a wild life photographer too. He has visited around 50 National parks and 300 wild life sanctuaries. He has a collection of 4 lakh photographs and 400 documentaries on wild life. In spite of being awarded NatyaGaurav , Deep Sneha , Rajiv Gandhi National award , Louis Braille , Real Heroes by CNN IBN, he is very down to earth and continues his journey of doing his work unconditionally .
His father being a health officer, Swagat Thorat spent his childhood in jungles of Chandrapur, where most of the Adivasis live. When he was in 11th, they shifted to Ahmednagar. Due to some incident, he didn’t feel like continuing his education and dropped out of his studies. He started his own firm of interior design with 40 carpenters.
It was in Ahmednagar, he got attracted towards Drama and his craze for it started growing. He got in touch with a renowned artist, Late Shri Sadashiv Amarapurkar and managed to handle all aspects of drama from spotlight to direction. He came to Pune to try his luck and met director of Balchitravani ‘ Mr Jyotiram Kadam’ . at a program .
Mr Swagat was asked to do a documentary on study methodologies of blind .It was first time he came into contact with blind people. He got permission to visit blind school and started to study them. He was stuck at one question. When the electricity goes off, we search for other sources so that we can see. What is the source for blind people that in spite of being blind they learn to work, just as good as the person with sight and yet stay happy?
He asked this question to many but no one was able to answer. So he tried finding the answer by himself. After studying, he used to go his room and blind fold himself to do all his work. After a certain period, he started closing his eyes and doing the chores .In this process, he explored his body anew and achieved a new self realization. He realised when one sense is disabled, other senses starts working strongly and your body starts getting modulated. He understood the limitations of limitations.
In 1993 he successfully created famous documentary ‘Kallokhatil Chandane‘. Years passed and he was working as chief editor on newspaper called Janvad when he came across an autobiography of Helen Keller which was translated, in Marathi by Shanta Shelke called Andhali .
He got an urge to narrate this to blind students. How could the director inside him stay silent he felt nabho natya (a form where play reading is done on radio ) would be good for this but it was rejected by Akashwani as no one knew him. So they performed live in Kothrud girls school. For ambience, 400 different kinds of background music was used and 28 characters played by six people with different voice modulations. There was a pin drop silence during performance .After the performance few girls came and said “Sir we want to do something like this, will you help us
He could understand their feelings very well. Every person has an artist hidden inside him and he knew how it feels so he promised to take every person who was interested in drama. Thereby 88 visually challenged students participated. In 1997 in this one act play ‘Swatantryachi Yashogatha‘ got first prize .
He directed PuLaDeshpandes play ‘Teen Paishancha Tamasha‘ based on Bertolt Brenchs Three Penny, with visually challenged had a complete new group of 44 people from Mumbai. Directing them is a challenge as they cannot see and emotions have to be explained. The only medium they can understand is language of touch. During this process few students expressed their thirst of getting new knowledge and reading books, so he started a Fortnightly Newspaper called Sparshadnyan in braille script, Marathi language for blind.
In 2000 they had special edition column on PuLa Deshpande Sparshadnyan stopped in 2000 as they wanted to have their own braille machine worth 4 lakhs. In 2008 they with their new machine the Newspaper was started. It is a Newspaper where advertisements, crime, negative and cricket news are not published. They focus on positivity.
It is published on 1st and 15th of every month . Having more than 24000 readers, distributed in 31 districts of Maharashtra. As this Newspaper had a huge response, people demanded for Hindi Newspaper which saw light in 2011 when Mr.Swagat got the CNN Real heroes award .Reliance group came forward and together ‘ Reliance Drishti’ was formed Mr Swagat as Chief editor of Reliance Drishti. A Hindi Newspaper in Braille script which is distributed free in India.
Currently with the help of Savitri foundation 14 Braille libraries have been setup. He dreams of having a drama institution and daily newspapers for blind. The story just doesn’t end here it goes on with support from you and me (us). As it is said.
”We become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic with different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams.”
– Shraddha Jagdale
An Engineering student, a Graphic Designer and Cyber law consultant