Mental Health in Indian Cinema

Over the last few decades, a growing number of movies are being made with the central character facing some degree of mental disorder. Hollywood has a plethora of movies in this area such as A Brilliant Young Mind (Autism), Black swan (Delusion and Bulimia nervosa), Still Alice (Alzheimer’s disease), etc. Indian movies are gradually becoming more sensitive towards the portrayal of mental illness. While some movies have portrayed disabilities as “cute”, most others try to gain the sympathy of the audience. And finally, there are movies that restore your faith in the art of movie making.

The list needs to start with 15 Park Avenue. In a remarkable act by Konkona Sen Sharma and Shabana Azmi, the life of a schizophrenia patient and the struggles of their family are portrayed. The movie features an extensive discussion about hallucinations, delusions, and therapies in the most up to date fashion.

 

Another open-minded film was Margarita with a Straw. Dealing with the life of a girl with cerebral palsy, the movie also talked about the sexuality of the handicapped.

Karthik Calling Karthik portrays Multiple Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder. Karthik has an alter ego that controls and advises him on how to lead life. Multiple Personality Disorder has also been shown in The Fight Club.

Piku makes it to the list because this father-daughter drama subtly deals with the issue of hypochondria. Hypochondria is an obsession with illness without any diagnosed medical condition.

Many have watched Dear Zindagi for pristine Goa and a charismatic SRK. The story deals with building the courage to see a mental health professional, family responses to depression, and the issue of transference. It is a treat for psychology major students because it talks about “Ethical Principles”!

Taare Zameen Par is not actually about mental disorder. The movie deals with Dyslexia, which is a learning disorder. The extraordinary depiction of dyslexia, incomparable acting by the cast, and the fact that it raised a lot of awareness makes the movie a must watch!

Responsible storytelling is the need of the hour. We hope that by infusing mental health in our movies, we will be able to create a greater awareness about the reality of mental illness.

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