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7 Bollywood Movies that talk about mental health struggles

Bollywood films have always been known for being highly emotive and meaningful, but what are the most notable ones that have humanised mental struggles? Here's a list of some of our favourites.

1. 15 Park Avenue: Aparna Sen’s ‘15 Park Avenue’ is a cinematic masterpiece. It revolves around Meethi (Konkona Sen Sharma) who suffers from Schizophrenia. It beautifully portrays the effects Schizophrenia has on the victim, her family, and relationships. It’s realistic, emotional, and will be on your mind for days.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling. People with schizophrenia require lifelong treatment.

2. Barfi: ‘Barfi!’ explores a complicated relationship between a deaf and mute person (Ranbir Kapoor), an autistic person (Priyanka Chopra) and a regular person (Ileana D’Cruz). It was a refreshing film which draws us into the world of the disabled without carrying the weight of pity.

The handling of the story is something to marvel at. It’s put together with tender compassion and the conclusion is powerful and hugely impacting. The finest thing about the film is its power to move and transform on several occasions. It’s the depiction of love and sacrifice that makes Barfi! worthwhile.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. There is no known single cause for autism spectrum disorder, but it is generally accepted that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic and nongenetic, or environmental, influences.

3. Tamasha: In ‘Tamasha’, Ranbir Kapoor plays Vir who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. One moment he’s carefree, reckless, and animated, and in the next, e is shy, reserved, and dull.

The movie shows how this affects his relationship with his girlfriend Tara, played by Deepika Padukone, and dives deep into his childhood and family life to explain his illness. Imtiaz Ali’s Tamasha deals with the intricacies of relationships of an individual with personality disorder and does justice to the characteristics showcased by people suffering from the ailment.

4. Dear Zindagi: ‘Dear Zindagi’ is one of the movies that are entirely around the topic of mental health. In the movie,Kaira (played by Alia Bhatt), is a cinematographer who suffers from deep-rooted psychological and abandonment issues that stem from her childhood. She realizes this and seeks therapy from Jug, an unconventional therapist played by Shah Rukh Khan.

The movie narrates her journey of self-development, healing, and cover. It broke barriers because it was not only relatable for many young adults today, but it also normalized therapy, and the need to seek expert’s advice when it comes to talking about one’s Mental Health & Wellbeing.

5. Chhichhore: In ‘Chhichhore’, Sushant Singh Rajput played the role of a teen’s dad. His son tries to end his life on finding out that he has not qualified the IIT. And as a father Sushant Singh narrates the story of his college days which has a lesson on how no one is a loser.

The film follows the hostel life of Sushant and his six friends. And gives us the glimpse of the story of how once branded as losers they fight to earn the respect of the same individuals who branded them as losers. The movie shows us how we can change our life and make the best of what we’ve got. It also points to the common problems of parental pressure on children and shows the effects of peer pressure as well.

6. Black: This 2005 movie – ‘Black’ – is critically-acclaimed, that stars Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherji and centers around Rani Mukherji and her multiple challenges and on Amitabh Bachchan’s role as a teacher. Bachchan develops Alzheimer’s Disease later, a plot twist to show a reversal of roles where the student now helps her ex-teacher.

The movie includes some good scenes where Bachchan shows the early confusion/ disorientation. However, it does not show enough of the deterioration or problems of daily life, etc. The onset and progression of Alzheimer’s are not fleshed out. However, the awareness that the movie created around Alzheimer’s is praiseworthy and a lot of doctors refer to the character of Amitabh even till date when they try to explain the condition of loved ones to the lower-income strata groups who may not understand the implications of the disease well.

7. Heroine: The movie ‘Heroine’ had leading lady Kareena Kapoor suffering from bipolar disorder. While the movie does not entirely focus on her illness, but rather how the illness leads to the downfall of her career, it still helped in throwing light on the condition and its management.

Bipolar disorder or bipolar affective disorder also called manic-depressive disorder is a mood disorder and people usually experience disruptive mood swings that range from a frenzied state known as mania to depression. These extreme mood swings are separated by a ‘normal phase’ as well. The prevalence of this condition is the same in men and women, and across all ethnic groups.

To sum it up

If Bollywood is allowed to portray the reality then it is possible that people will get some understanding of mental illness and their demands might increase. Also, it might help the viewers to accept a particular disorder as well. In the present scenario, Bollywood movies can make a difference for many people.

Let’s hope that in future also there will be more such movies revealing the struggles of those living with mental illness that helps our society break the daunting stigma of mental health.

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