It’s Not Funny: A Poem on Bollywood’s Portrayal of Mental Health

It’s 2022,
And we’re still discussing whether anxiety and depression are real,
Or whether they’re simply myths,
That grew out of stories and exaggerations, with no truth or foundation.
We know all about mental disorders, thanks to the movies/media.
We laugh at the idea of hallucinations and romanticise schizophrenia.
Delusions are portrayed as quirky and bipolar as scary,
ADHD is stupid and OCD is funny.

Really, it’s time.
It’s time to unlearn and relearn facts about mental disorders.
To stop trivialising and mocking these conditions,
To understand that psychiatrists and therapists are not magicians.
That a walk on the beach and pill-popping is not always the solution.
To stop using psychosis for comic effect,
Your intention may be otherwise but with this,
The stigma towards mental health is double-checked.

The words ‘mad’, ‘psycho’, ‘paagal’, ‘crazy’,
Among many others, should not be associated with any mental health condition,
Not for your movie plots or any cinematic ambitions.
Be it your Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Darr or Atrangi Re,
You may not understand the need for consent or a trigger warning,
You may not realise comic dramatisation adds to stigmatisation,
That love is not a quick fix solution,
Irrespective of your flawed assumption.

So a sincere request from us–
Please stop the problematic union of your cinema with mental health,
Till you don’t realise that misrepresentation is not better than underrepresentation.

Moitrayee Das is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at FLAME University, Pune.

Featured image: Pariplab Chakraborty