What You Should Know About Therapy That Dear Zindagi Doesn’t Tell You

Posted: November 30, 2016

Dear Zindagi scores high marks for an excellent female lead in a powerful role, but a good portrayal of seeking help for mental health? No, it’s not! Here’s what you should know about therapy.

“Am I over-paying my therapist,” I wondered as I watched Alia Bhatt and Sharukh Khan play kabaddi on the beach as he dished life-gyaan to her. My two year relationship with my therapist has not left the couch.

I am not someone who believes that movies have to be about sensitizing audiences and that they should walk out with a new sense of enlightenment – movies can be about mindless entertainment too. And movies about mental illness don’t have to be heavy and talk about personality disorders and bipolarity and it is OKAY to make a movie about a therapist and a girl talking about her love-life.

It does not have to be frivolous either and package reality in a sugar coated box to make it sell.

Like a friend rightly pointed out, movies that make you believe they are talking about something deep and instead present a not-so-accurate portrayal of the issue at hand are the ones that irk me the most.

My friend after watching the movie sent me a message saying  that she was so glad “I was seeing someone”. She was referring to my therapist and not my love life and it almost scared me to think that she probably assumed I had a ‘relationship’ with my therapist and that he took me to places and sat next to me on the couch.

I don’t write this to talk about what a ‘bad’ movie Dear Zindagi was because firstly, it was not a bad movie and secondly I have no idea what it takes to make a good movie.

I do have a fair idea of what it means to ‘go to a therapist’ and ‘get help’ for your mental illness and that is what I want to talk about.

The movie that starts by talking about how a ‘kidney failure’ is taken seriously whereas an illness in the mind is not utterly disappoints me when Alia Bhatt’s mental illness is cured by just charming words. Let’s try curing kidney failure with some motivation and cycling.

My point is, there is nothing romantic about mental illness. And when I say nothing, I take a strong stance on it and say NOTHING.

Your therapist will not play games with you all the time and give you easy analogies. You are not going to feel good after you have opened up about your issues and cried your eyes out to your therapist ONE TIME. Your therapist will not take you cycling and to outdoor settings to cure your problems and in short, therapy is not Disneyland.

Therapy is slow, painful and more often than not, involves medication and emotional pain. It may or may not work for you in the first few sessions or even with the first few therapists and you might be left feeling helpless and bored. You need to push yourself and persist and really want to get help in order to even get close to solving your issues. And god forbid you find yourself attracted to your therapist – find another one.

Dear Zindagi could have been a lot of things. It could have been about exploring your childhood to see what it can do to your adulthood or it could have beautifully captured the quarter life crisis that hits us in our tween years and how therapy can help.

Dear Zindagi is probably a revelation for the film industry with a strong female lead bashing out a brilliant performance but as far as movies about mental illness goes, it still limps.

Pic courtesy Youtube

Nandhitha Hariharan is a writer with a love for anything that is pretty or covered

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  1. I wholly agree with your post. Its important not to gloss over reality and I’m glad that you are choosing to be so honest about it. Like you rightly point out bollywood/regional movies often distort certain types of reality to a point that it may well become a stereotype in common perception and that is a real danger. This is especially so when dealing with serious issues like mental heath and the even more serious related issue of finding appropriate help and acceptance to deal with it in a country like India.

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