5 Bollywood films that focused on mental health

Published: July 27, 2019
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With the release of Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao’s Judgementall Hai Kya, the audience will get to see if Bollywood has taken any cues from the past when it comes to portraying mental illness on the big screen.

Over the years, we a slew of films have tried to do so but not all of them have succeeded. But a few do stand out in the crowd. As compiled from The Indian Express, here are five Bollywood films that have attempted to touch upon mental health, positively or negatively.

‘Dear Zindagi’

This Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan-starrer shows how stress and unhappiness can result in insomnia. Alia character Kaira is a young cinematographer who wishes to make her own films someday. However, due to various circumstances in her life, she becomes disturbed until one day, when she chances upon psychologist Dr Jehangir Khan (Shah Rukh) and thereby decides to seek psychological help from him. Dear Zindagi showed us that it’s okay to not be okay.

‘Krazzy 4’

This multi-starrer is a far cry from Dear Zindagi. Despite actors like Irrfan Khan and Arshad Warsi, Krazzy 4 seemed to make light of its mental illnesses. Its lead characters suffer from cases of Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Schizophrenia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but the writer introduces done-to-death plot tropes in to evoke laughter, therefore reducing the issue to a mere joke.

‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’

When it came out, we all overlooked the underlying storylines in Aanand L Rai’s Tanu Weds Manu Returns. But now that people are more aware of mental illness, the sequence where Kangana Ranaut and R Madhavan are speaking to a panel of doctors in what is supposed to be a mental asylum is rather problematic, and for good reason. The duo throws around words like anxiety and bipolar disorder nonchalantly and the accompanying background music is the kind usually played in comic scenes.

‘Karthik Calling Karthik’

Another depiction of schizophrenia but well done. In the Vijay Lalwani film, Farhan Akhtar’s Karthik Narayan is an introverted man who blames himself for his brother’s death. However, later, we discover that to deal with this issue, he develops an alter-ego and talks himself into becoming a more confident version of himself. Farhan has done a standup job of the unhinged Karthik here.

‘15 Park Avenue’

The Aparna Sen directorial might have a somewhat depressing end but at least the script and the  performances help move the message in the right direction. Konkana Sen Sharma is Meethi, a former journalist who suffers from schizophrenia and in her head, has created an alternative world where she lives with her ex (Rahul Bose) and their five children.

But she envisions her mother (Waheeda Rehman) and her elder sister Anjali (Shabana Azmi) as villains of her story. A nuanced performance by both Azmi and Konkana lifts 15 Park Avenue from its dreary surroundings and forces you to sit up and take notice of the lead characters’ movements and intentions — something which every film sets out to do, but doesn’t necessarily succeed in.

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