A Clinical psychologist extended a piece of advice to the filmmakers, who are wanting to portray a mental illness issue through their films.
Around the world, there is little understanding of mental health issues as there is little awareness around them. Over recent years, talking about mental health has been normalised but a lot has to be covered yet. The poor knowledge of people on mental health issues is why they are stigmatised in real life, and our Bollywood films have always had a problematic approach towards it. In the past, many films have either dramatized a mental issue or have made a mockery of it. A recent one added to the list is Sara Ali Khan, Dhanush, and Akshay Kumar starrer Atrangi Re.
However, the actors were hailed for their super performance, but the portrayal of mental health has left people with polarised opinions. A movie that is fundamentally based on a mental health issue, went on to generalise different mental and behavioural problems and brought it under one umbrella – which practically is very irresponsible.
The reason Atrangi Re has drawn criticism is because of the plot, which has been peppered with moments of humour, even when the movie talks about a serious mental health issue. When a character hallucinates and interacts with an imaginary person — this is a sign of schizophrenia. Instead of addressing the issue, the scenes are romanticised and have been made comical.
While portraying such serious mental illness on the big screen, filmmakers are ought to treat it fairly and sensitively, to avoid regressing and giving out the wrong message.
Clinical psychologist and founder of MindTribe.in, Dr Prerna Kohli told The Indian Express that one cannot know enough about mental health ordeals and sufferings. As far as the filmmakers are concerned, Prerna extended a piece of advice to them. She said that they can educate themselves by researching and furthermore by speaking to a mental health professional. Prerna suggested that filmmakers can even spend time with a patient and an informant, this will generate empathy, hence they will be able to portray the character in a better and sensitive way.
Dr Samir Parikh, the director of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare opined that not just illness, Bollywood has done a flawed portrayal of psychologists, psychiatrists, and medications too. He stated that a conventional psychologist would have a structured environment for talking to his patients or doing therapy, they will not walk on the beach, as depicted in Dear Zindagi.
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