Varun Raina: Person of determination stars in UAE-shot film

Varun Raina aims to inspire and teach others through his talents

By Husain Rizvi

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Published: Tue 22 Feb 2022, 10:38 AM

Last updated: Tue 22 Feb 2022, 10:59 AM

It was at the age of four when Varun Raina, a child of determination, began to show a keen interest in music. In awe of their child’s ability to hum classical Indian songs perfectly without speech, parents Sanjay and Neena enrolled Varun in an institute to develop his impressive talent.

During his first onstage performance, Varun grew nervous and ran behind the curtains. But it only went upwards from there as Varun, now 23, boasts of having performed at Dubai Opera, Atlantis, Global Village, and even the ongoing Expo 2020 Dubai.

And it does not stop there.

“Acting is also something Varun loves, be it theatre or film acting,” Sanjay said in a conversation with City Times. “He gets into the character and delivers it brilliantly. He is an entirely different individual when he is on stage or in front of the camera.”

Varun plays a major role in an upcoming film titled Chords of Love. It focuses on ensuring the inclusion of people of determination in society. A short film, Chords of Love conveys, with purpose and thought, the story of a young adult with special needs. Since its inception a year ago, the film has been shot entirely in the UAE and features local actors alongside Varun.

Film with a message

“It was amazing to see how all the co-actors worked with Varun. The film was shot smoothly and most of the crew have become family friends now,” said Sanjay. The film aims to bring “hope to parents of determined kids” that their children, if given an opportunity in any inclusive field, can do well. “It also aims to give hope to the corporates or film makers that people with special needs should have opportunities in their areas of strength,” Sanjay added.

And Sanjay is thankful to be in Dubai where the government is making all efforts to support children and adults of determination.

The Rainas, a family of four — Sanjay, Neena, Varun and Saransh, their youngest child (19) — are originally from Kashmir but have been out of India since 2005. They have lived in Indonesia and Malaysia before coming to Dubai in 2011 where Neena, now, runs a centre for children of determination, Tender Hearts. There, Varun leads laughter sessions during yoga.

When asked about UAE playing a role in shaping Varun’s life, Raina said, “The country has provided Varun a good base for learning music and acting. Corporates here integrate people of determination within their roles.”

But the Rainas never had it easy. “The biggest challenge was to get him initial therapy, and later on a formal school where he could enrol,” said Sanjay, adding that a few schools promised integration and help from school therapists but never came through. The attitude and approach from many kids in his then age group was also a challenge, says Sanjay, who cites “lack of education and awareness” about the people of determination as a contributing factor that makes it harder for everyone including parents.

Despite these issues, Varun’s confidence and self-esteem sky-rocketed, helping him handle and lead any event. Now, he aims to inspire and teach others through his talents.

His upcoming film, Chords of Love, will be screened in Dubai’s Vox Cinemas on February 23.

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