The Antics of the Indian Movies – A Psychological View

The Antics of the Indian Movies – A Psychological View

Indian movies and mental health

The largest film industry in the world churning out a whopping number of movies, approximately, 1,986 in a single Year with a total valuation of 15,500 Crore, tends to look less at the aspect of mental illness and more at how to depict it, to add another couple of crores to the valuation sheet, with an utter disregard for actuality. Although an all-out depiction of mental issues might be jarring, confusing or difficult to accept for some the present wag of depiction is equally and possibly more confusing to the misinformed minds and disrespectful to the individuals and their loved ones who either suffer or are helping somebody who suffers from mental illnesses.

1. Messing with Diagnoses

It is indeed startling, as to how and even what part of the ICD diagnoses forgetting every 15 Minutes and reminding himself via tattoos fall in. There’s a pattern in our industry to give these diagnosable, psychiatric illnesses almost comical and absurd solutions to bring their script to the much patent and coveted happy untrue endings. Usually, mental illness is either the vessel for a protagonist’s revival into absolute happiness or just a way to garner sympathy from its viewer for a very emotional climax.

What it fails to depict however is utter disdain disparity of the individuals that go through them, the hardships, the problems that pave their path which seem to have toiled with taboo and the sheer mockery of their ailments which doesn’t act one bit in bringing the frenzy down and helping individuals in understanding the problems.

2. Showing mental Asylums like Prison

It is movies like “Tere Naam” by Sathish Kaushik add to the already crumbling image of the psychiatric and psychological profession by showing mental asylums like prisons with authoritarian and almost sadistic frontrunners that would “do an operation” and silence the patients that make too much noise or proves to be incurable. One could argue that such barbaric practices were normal in the olden times but isn’t that the case with all the professions?

You don’t see individuals performing lobectomies (Boring holes through the nasal passage in the cortex to treat psychosis) and neither do you see doctors performing trepanation (the process of boring holes in skulls) to cure epilepsy or headaches, why does not an individual or his family perceive this to ever be the case when he goes to a Physician to get a simple headache checked? Then why does this perception of psychiatric treatments being barbaric and mental institutions being prisons not change? The answer could well be found in the number of people who watch a movie and how many of them genuinely believe what is shown in them.

Read: The psychological impact of violence on viewers

3. Absurd Treatments

“Khamoshi” by Asit Sen shows inmates as comic reliefs in an otherwise psychologically strong script and goes on to show the “treatment” of a patient by simply asking a nurse to fake a love affair with the said patient to heal his wounded heart. One can neither find this form of treatment in either the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) nor are rebounds counted as psychological treatments.

All this does is continue the cycle of misunderstanding that surrounds this profession and deepens this already gaping hole of lore and urban myths.

4. Promoting Misconceptions

Treatment methods shown at times in these celluloid depictions are nothing less than sheer mockery. Take the case of the most common misconception that almost always without a question passes as an actual cure: ‘hitting somebody on their head at the very same place they were hit before in order help them regain their memory’. Such unreal methods of treatment are shown in uncountable movies and cause a number of unexplainable blunt-force head traumas on an individual who already can’t remember anything.

5. Disorders or Possessed Demons?

Another favourite of the “Masala” mind is the bringing of “possessed” individuals either to a priest or a baba who almost inexplicably would start throwing water and chanting verses that would surprisingly (of course after 4 romantic songs and a “hero” risking his own life ) cures the individual of what anyone would gauge (of course at their own risk) is either a very violent psychotic episode or individual suffering from one of the many neurodegenerative diseases of the mind. Case in point? “Bhool Bhulaiya”, where the actress seems to be possessed by a ghost and seems to be suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder which has symptoms that include Memory loss, out-of-body experiences, Depression, Suicidal ideation, Emotional Numbness and a lack of self-identity, none of which seems similar at all to singing a Bengali song at once and being extremely calm and composed the next.

Read: The psychological impact of TV show Friends

6. Confusing Disabilities

Movies like “Main Aisa hi Hoon”, which was supposed to depict an Autistic father fighting for the right to remain the rightful guardian of his children but the movie seems to mix autism with mental retardation producing a confusing cacophony of neglect and defiance.

7. Promoting or Validating Addictions and Crimes

Turning to the world of beautiful melodies and meaningful lyrics piece song that plays very often on the radio titled “Aaj Phir peene ki tamanna hai” has not only destroyed a beautiful song named “Aaj Phir Jeene Ki Tamanna Hai” from the movie Guide but also lightens an individual’s perception of Alcoholism and the fact that it’s a documented mental illness (Fl0.20, ICD).

The Bright side

Although with growing realisation and an increasing number of people realising what, why and how mental illness happens there seems to be a learning curve in Bollywood as well. Take “Dear Zindagi” for example; which not only shows psychological illness in a truer fashion but also the process of going to a psychologist in a reliable and correct and a “harmless” manner with surprisingly no knives and swords in sight!

There is a bigger battle that still needs to be won but it’s both the critical and commercial success of movies like “Dear Zindagi” that one as a psychologist/ psychiatrist can breathe easy and only hope that getting and questioning patients would get easier and less morbid.

Hence dear readers, Please stop hitting people who’ve lost their memory, they are already in so much pain and get them to a mental health professional. We promise to not chain either you or them up.

Read: The Spotlight for Mental Health: understanding the Unique stress Actor’s Face

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