Mental Health vs Bollywood Films

My dark days made me strong. Or maybe I already was strong, and they made me prove it. – Emery Lord

Hello, fellow Mumblers! Bollywood is known world over for its brilliant filmography and songs. But when this entertainment industry wielding the given level of influence in India, grossly misrepresents mental health issues, what do we do? I write about it, you spread the word and we hope it makes a difference. Much love!❤

The plots of quite a few movies in Bollywood are wrapped around mental disorders, without ever shedding proper light on them.  Be it Asperger’s syndrome in ‘My name in Khan’, autism in ‘Barfi’ or depression in ‘Anjana Anjani’. (And a stroll along the beach isn’t exactly how therapy works – as depicted in ‘Dear Zindagi’). There is blatant misrepresentation of psychological disorders in Bollywood to a point that Amitabh Bachchan’s character in ‘Black’, supposedly having Alzheimer’s is shown to regain his memories while in reality, the disease progressively worsens.

The characters suffering from such issues are mostly used for comic relief, to add thrill or to emphasise the unpredictability of the mentally ill. It only adds to the stigma already associated with the issue. Psychiatrists and therapists too, often seem to turn into hakims and babas, giving the idea that mental illness translates to supernaturalism. (Courtesy: Akshay Kumar’s character in ‘Bhool Bhulaiya’).

Given the popularity Bollywood enjoys in India, where even the season’s trendy hairstyle is influenced by B-town celebs, such carelessness reflects in society. Words such as ‘schizo’ and ‘paagal’ are casually tossed about; not to forget the recent song- ‘Psycho Saiyan’ amassing 210 million views and 1.6 million likes at the time of writing. Phrases such as “I’m kind of OCD about cleanliness” and “She can’t decide on one dress, she is so bipolar!” have surprisingly become  ‘normal’.

Thankfully though, some films have managed to capture a refreshing image in dealing with mental illnesses. Think of Kalki Koechlin’s character in ‘Margherita with a straw’ and Rani Mukherjee’s portrayal of a teacher with Tourette’s syndrome in ‘Hichki’. Though Bollywood still has a long way to go, its tiny steps seem to going in the right direction and will hopefully, continue the same way.

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Published by Shreya

She is a selectively social student who'd rather spend her day with books, animals and good food in a garden. She also feels weird while describing herself in third person.

15 thoughts on “Mental Health vs Bollywood Films

  1. I remember watching Hitchki as just another movie and now seeing it being mentioned here I realised how blinded I was. Bollywood has subtle ways of bringing attention to mental health but the good ones are always overthrown by the other ones that are absolute trash. I loved your perspective on it. 😊

    Liked by 3 people

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