Singer-composer Vishal Dadlani, who is featured in a new music video called "Pagaal" from the '6 Pack Band 2.0' -- comprising six specially-abled children, says people tend to treat differently-abled children as ‘abnormal" or call them "paagal" easily, but this attitude needs to be changed.
"I felt honoured to be a part of the video where I got a chance to mingle with these children. They are precious. There is a certain honesty they have and they talk from the heart.
"They will not say anything to make you feel good or bad, because they do not know pretention. I love such people. Yes, they are different, but being different does not mean being abnormal," Vishal of the popular Vishal-Shekhar duo, told IANS in an interview.
The band '6 Pack Band 2.0' comprises six differently-abled children - Ananya, Anjali, Maitreya, Paarth, Prerna and Rishaan. It is an initiative by the Y-Films to create awareness about disabilities of children.
On the intention behind the initiative, Vishal said: "The idea is not to bring them to the mainstream, but the mainstream to them. There are times when even we, so-called normal people think differently, people call us ‘paagal'.
"It is so easy to say that, but at the end of the day, we know we are just different from each other. And we all are co-existing, right? The idea is to understand that everyone is unique and it is a matter of general compassion and understanding."
Considering that normal people do not know how to handle special children in daily life, the question arises, how will the new generation learn to treat them with equality if parents are sending differently-abled kids to special school?
"Look, I understand that point, but we must not forget that some kids have the ability to function differently from other kids. For instance, there are kids who may not be able to communicate or understand what is being communicated, unless they are trained specially.
"In such cases, they need special teachers who know how to deal with a specific condition of a child. That does not mean, we have to discriminate. In the larger scene, we have to understand that these children are not abnormal or ‘paagal'.
"They are as normal as us and we are all unique in our way. Therefore, everyone should get the equal opportunity," said the "Swag se swagat" singer.
Vishal cited the example of one of the band members, Prerna.
He said: "She is a much better musician than many that I know. She recognises a tone just by hearing it... It is a remarkable gift she is born with. So, if I am not trying to understand her and not finding out her way, we will miss out on a talent."
This is not the first time that Vishal has stood for a cause to address social issues. In the past also, he has associated with such activities and expressed his opinion on current affairs - be it on recent case of rape and murder of girl child in Kathua to participating in fundraiser music concerts for needy people or working as a member of the political party Aam Aadmi Party.
Is his music an extension of his socio-political opinion?
He said: "Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not. When I work as Vishal-Shekhar for film music, we obviously have to go according to the story of the film. But given an opportunity, we did such songs in films like 'Shanghai' and in my band Pentagram... Yes I always try to express myself there. It's like...one does, as much as one can."
Since Vishal also faces criticism at times on social media, he says he remains unfazed.
"When I am putting anything on a public platform, people are entitled to criticise me. Basically, they are giving feedback. That is their right and they are practicing it.
"The amount of love and support I have got from people for my work…I do not even look at that little criticism," he signed off.