Mental Hai Kya, the new rom-com featuring Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao, seems to be getting more than its share of controversial attention, thanks to the medical experts who find the film’s approach to psychological imbalances extremely unprofessional.
Several tweets objecting to the film’s title and poster, showing Ranaut and Rao balancing a razor blade on the tip of their tongues, have surfaced.
One of the tweets reads, “@SmritiSawhney Precisely the gripe I had even with the title #MentalHaiKya. The poster does not help the cause either. The layperson would not be able to differentiate between ‘mentally ill’ and ‘Mental’. Those with #mentalillness are often called ‘mental’ in a derogatory way (sic).”
While the film’s producer Ekta Kapoor remained unavailable for comment, a source close to the project says that the title might be changed. “Mental Hai Kya is a half-joking reference to someone who does outrageous things. Kangana and Rajkummar play two individuals who are constantly walking, talking and dancing on the edge,” says the source.
Apparently, the producers are unsure of the content as the release date was postponed from April to June. Incidentally, the title Mental was to be used by Salman Khan but he decided against it.
The title is insensitiveLast month we wrote to the Election Commission of India against politicians name calling opponents with terms such as “pagal hai kya” which is a derogatory use of the word. The EC barred people from using it. The blade in the movie poster and its title are insensitive and disrespectful and harmful given that India is the number one country for suicides in the world. We would like the filmmakers to change the title and make sure there are no references in the movie that are demeaning to mental health. They should clearly carry a message stating they do not intend to hurt anyone in the film.— Dr Naresh Vadlamani, chief consultant psychiatrist, Columbus Hospital, Begumpet MD Hon. Zonal Secretary, Indian Psychiatric Society — South Zonal Branch
Be socially responsibleA few years ago, Deepika Padukone said she had depression and had taken treatment for it. When that information was shared, it made a direct positive impact on people. Out of the various components, seeking help and reducing stigma are the two points we need to look at with regards to the film. Mental health issues have been used in olden cinema as comedy or to show crime and violence. But how sad is it to make fun of or demean someone suffering from mental health issues. It is important for role models to help change the social narrative positively. I am firm believer of creative freedom but it cannot come without social responsibility.— Dr Sameer Parekh, director, department of mental health andbehavioral sciences, chairperson, Fortis National Mental Health Council
Let’s not jump to any conclusionIn my view, we need to see in what context the terms are being used — if someone is being called mental. We don’t know the storyline and if the term is being used with connection to someone suffering from mental health issues, that is when it becomes demeaning to the person. It will be interesting to see how CBFC reacts to that. Don’t know the content of movie. It may not be connected to anything. The movie has two good actors, who have done good and sensitive work. Most of their movies have been content driven so we need to have an objective view. Hollywood has also not objected to film series Mad Max, so it may be a bit premature to jump to a conclusion.— Dr Bharatkumar Reddy, Consultant Psychiatrist, Apollo Hospital, Hyderguda
— As told to Joyeeta Basu