Many celebrities and filmmakers in Bollywood and Hollywood today are talking about mental health issues, either by sharing their own struggles with anxiety and depression, or of someone from their family or friends circle. Several celebrities such as Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, have tried to raise awareness and remove the stigma that surrounds mental health concerns. Over the years, some Bollywood movies have also highlighted selected mental illnesses and disorders, either directly or in subtle ways, though not all have been realistic depictions. With Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao’s Mental Hai Kya coming up, here’s a look at four movies which also focused on mental health:
1. Woh Lamhe (2006)
Directed by Mohit Suri and written by Mahesh Bhatt, Woh Lamhe, starring Kangana Ranaut and Shiney Ahuja, was said to be Mahesh Bhatt’s tribute to the late actress Parveen Babi, who was in love with Bhatt and his mentor, but lost her successful career, mind and life to schizophrenia.
2. Dear Zindagi (2016)
Directed by Gauri Shinde, this film depicted therapy and counselling for general problems in life, related to romantic relationships and family, as something very normal and acceptable. Alia Bhatt played a young, independent and functional woman in India, who goes to see a therapist (Shahrukh Khan) simply because she has fears related to her relationships and intimacy, and as she does not get along with her parents.
3. Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007)
Helmed by director Priyadarshan, this film was about Vidya Balan’s character’s hidden struggle with Dissociative Identity Disorder and psychiatrist Akshay Kumar’s efforts to treat her and make people understand that the illness had nothing to do with the family’s superstitions. While the film had a lot of problems in the way the illness and its treatment was portrayed, it raised awareness of mental health problems in a light and entertaining manner.
4. Karthik Calling Karthik (2010)
This was a psychological thriller by director Vijay Lalwani, which featured Farhan Akhtar as an introverted schizophrenia patient and showed how its possible to get help with mental health conditions and lead a happy life.
There have been some other movies in the 1990s as well, such as Darr and Dastak, which have also portrayed obsessive and dangerous behaviour on screen, but they did not elaborate on how the “villains” in these movies could receive support and treatment, and go on to lead normal and peaceful lives. With the increasing emphasis on mental health issues these days, we can expect many more Bollywood filmmakers to come up with more realistic mental health stories, to raise awareness of various mental illnesses that impact a large number of people in India and all over the world.