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Dear Zindagi has been reeling in viewers in India and all over the world for the past couple of weeks, and takes a honest approach towards shattering the stigma around seeking help for mental health.
Apart from its take on therapy, which is central to the movie, there are a lot of issues which it touches upon.
20- something Kaira (Alia Bhatt), struggling to form lasting relationships, depends heavily on ‘her phone’ (read social media, messaging etc) to cut herself out from situations she cannot handle. This is a very real and to me, serious issue plaguing the current generation. Emotional issues are compensated for by Facebook likes.
Having gone through my late teens and early twenties in an era which thankfully was free from over indulgence in social media, friendships souring and relationship breakups were cried over. We have looked for friends to talk it out with, or a family member’s shoulder to cry on. We have gone through the pain in their company and sometimes in silence. But the process took its natural course.
To some extent, over indulgence in social media inhibits development essential for social skills, coping with relationship issues being one of them.
Kaira is shown to go shopping online to order something every time she is upset. Again, this easy access to retail therapy is absolutely common place today.
This is not to negate the benefits which online shopping has brought to many households, but the ease of ordering something even when sobbing under the covers, has made this a source of instant gratification.
The movie brings about a very valid and strong case of how a child can have real issues with parents. A mere 6 year old, unable of adult like conversational expression brings it out in tantrums and sulking. Parents deem it as the child’s personal traits – and end up comparing one sibling to another and just worsen the entire situation.
Kaira’s complaints of her parents’ leaving her at her grandparents for a few years, escalated to childhood tantrums and sulking, which in turn escalated to a lack of trust in her romantic endeavours as an adult.
Her parents wonder why she can’t have stable relationships, And Kaira is unable to put two and two together, to link her childhood experience to her inability to stay put in her relationships, leading to a worsening child – parent equation.
Definitely need a therapist to figure this out! But food for thought for parents too here.
As a part of therapy, Therapist Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) brings about very relevant life lessons. One of them is that it is not always necessary to take a difficult path to achieve something important.
What a relief! Else, aren’t we always pushed to leave our comfort zone to achieve higher goals? Well, voila! Maybe it is not always necessary; especially if we are not prepared for it!
A 20-something, doesn’t matter what his or her choices are, is always conscious of what the world around thinks of them. And Kaira is no different. Even when she moves from one relationship to the next out of her own choice, she does worry that the world probably thinks of her as a slut.
Her therapist explains to her very simply that even when buying a chair we test so many different ones before picking the right one; how can choosing a life partner be done without exploring options?
Most of us do believe in soul mates, but the perspective given in the movie is worth pondering over. We could share our different interests with different people – hence we could have intellectual soul mates, musical soul mates etc. To rely heavily on a romantic relationship to fulfill all these roles is too much to ask for.
All in all, the movie breezes through the life of the current day youth and the role a therapist could play with such ease and grace that leave aside stigma, your psychologist feels like the confidante you always needed.
Even if therapist Khan does not follow all the rules of therapy, the movie does bring about a perspective worth looking out for.
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Top image is a movie still via Youtube