On World Mental Health Day, Here’s An Appreciation Post For The Effort Bollywood Has Taken To Break The Stigmas Around It
Today is World Mental Health Day, so we’re going to talk about it. But like how we don’t love a person only on their birthday, today shouldn’t be the only day we care about mental health. It’s something we must work towards, every day. The thing is, that most of us, keep our own mental peace, at the bottom of our priority list. We’re trying hard to climb the corporate ladder, holding on to a relationship that has long expired and inflating the void in us. We trade our peace of mind for toxicity and addiction – of things and people. But someone who has dealt with a mental health disorder will vouch for the fact that there is absolutely nothing more valuable than your mental wellbeing. No relationship or amount of money can get you happiness, if you’re mentally not in good shape. I’m glad that the world is investing in a lot more in mental health than before. Bollywood is becoming the torch-bearer of mental health education in India. And that’s great, considering that the industry holds the power to influence the masses in a colossal way.
In the 90s, there was no sensitivity around mental disorders. In fact, any disorder whatsoever, was slotted in under the same umbrella and the person suffering from it was simply deemed mad. Of course, that reflected the reality of our society back then. But today, we have movies that promise to define the issues that plague our minds, and refuse to lump all of them under one term. Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par, was the first commercial movie to talk about dyslexia, and it was handled very sensitively. The movie amazingly portrayed how this disorder is conveniently brushed off as laziness on the child’s part. When I look back, I know there were so many students in my school, who couldn’t get it right, no matter how much they tried. Could they have been suffering from a learning disability? Possible but we don’t know because they never got diagnosed. Of course, this is more of a disorder but the child’s mental health was certainly touched upon.
Like I said, in India, there’s a lot of pressure on students and a lot of them suffer from deteriorating mental health. In 3 Idiots, we saw Raju Rastogi (Sharman Joshi) attempting suicide because of the pressure. Recently, Chhichhore too dealt with a similar theme and discussed how we are not equipped to deal with failures and how the pressure to perform can severely affect our mental wellbeing.
In fact, I would say Bollywood has done amazingly to educate the masses about mental disorders. Bhool Bhulaiyaa dealt with dissociative identity disorder and showed how easy it is for people to assume that a person suffering from it is possessed. We let our superstitious mind take over, when there’s an scientific explanation to it. Even Black for that matter, showed Alzheimer’s as the crippling problem that it can be in a world that simply calls it “bhoolne ki bimaari”.
However, some movies targeted the youth of our country. Often, people who don’t have a major trauma to blame, feel like their mental health is being dismissed. For instance, Dear Zindagi showed how even the best intentioned family can unknowingly harm your mental health. But what I really loved about this movie is that Alia Bhatt actually went to a therapist for dealing with her depression, although depression is nothing like shown in the film. Tamasha too touched issues of self-esteem and anxiety but then again, it was not handled properly. I would have really appreciated if Ranbir Kapoor went to a therapist instead of to a storyteller to get cured. I mean, seriously, that’s not how it’s done.
I feel like I should mention how amazing it was for the makers to handle the controversy around Judgementall Hai Kya so maturely. Initially titled Mental Hai Kya, they changed it because it was not the most sensitive thing to do, considering it’s not cool to ridicule mental disorders.
There are several movies such as Highway (Stockholm Syndrome) and Woh Lamhe (Schizophrenia) that has educated the masses about mental illnesses.
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All-in-all, Bollywood has come a long way in portraying mental health. In fact, several celebrities like Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra, Lisa Ray, Ileana D’cruz, Shaheen Bhatt and more are speaking up about their mental health. If this doesn’t start a revolution, then I don’t know what will!