Mental health is a grey area. It is out there - loud and explicit but no one dares to speak about it. We have been tuned to stay silent on things related to the mind. What if people call us mad, or a psychopath or a loser! Mind-related illness is as old as the mountains but even in this advanced scientific and digital era when man is sending missions to Mars, there is an inhibition to publicly address it.
And even if someone hints about it, it is easily brushed off - that is okay, everything will be fine, everyone faces it, all common words blurted out from the mouths of even the closest relatives who seem to have a callous view of this silent killer. One may easily reveal that he/she has AIDS or Cancer, but only the brave admit that he/she is battling depression and it takes the braver to fight against it than succumb to it. The topic of mental health is something that is hard to make people sympathetic and empathetic towards the sufferer.
Depression, a mood disorder, is a common and serious medical illness that adversely affects how one feels, thinks, acts and reacts. Fortunately, it is curable, unfortunately, difficult for the person to identify. The depressed person should be able to identify it as it is a potential killer. The loss of a loved one, a job loss, a traumatic assault, all causes grief, but when grief persists for a longer period of time, it has to be seriously dealt with.
In grief, the self-esteem of a person is unaffected, unlike depression, where self-hatred and feeling worthless take centre-stage. A depressed person may be living in an ideal world - a family, love, wealth, health, fame, etc. The few reasons why others may not find the darkness in the person's so-called illuminated world.
Depression, when left untreated, gives rise to suicidal thoughts. What if I kill myself? Will there be people who would cry for me? Does my existence in this world matter at all? Why was I born? Why me? Having seen people who have experienced depression from close quarters, the writer has picked up some of the common thoughts that flash across a depressed mind - and, mind you, these are not just empty writings.
But, the topic of depression rises its head only when Deepika Padukone speaks about it or Sushant Singh Rajput kills himself due to it. The discussions heat up, #mentalhealth starts trending on social media and stays on the top even ahead of corona pandemic (right now). But, the media and public blows off the candle once they find another tragedy or click-friendly or TRP- friendly topic trending. And we are back to trolling, being judgmental, being cruel, harassing and ridiculing the already depressed souls.
Coming back to Sushant Singh Rajput (just 34), he killed himself on June 14, 2020, due to depression (well, that is what we believe as the investigation is still on and that is what the prominent news channels have been saying). Industry bigwigs had already spoken about how Sushant was going the Parveen Babi way, but, the film industry, his family and friends were oblivious to the fact that this energetic, chirpy, happy soul had hidden deep scars which others were blind to. It is painful and heart-breaking that the prominent producers introspected about the repercussions after the actor was gone.
In an old interview, Sushant did speak about mental health and how the stars too struggled in balancing their mental health and in identifying what they want to chase - money and fame, or how they struggled to protect themselves from pressures and paparazzi. At this juncture, may we turn judgmental - Man, Sushant was paying a whopping 4.5 lakhs per month as rent for his Bandra residence and he had donated 1 crore each to Nagaland and Kerala towards their flood relief funds, he was never short of money. Or, he had the killer looks that any woman may find hard to take her eyes off.
Guess, not a low self-esteem either. Or he can boast of a legacy of giving successful films - his works that had the required elements to make the film successful but did not require the actor in him to compromise for the role to look commercial. And he had a line-up of interesting films too. So he was not out of work either.
Sadly, there are many speculations about how he struggled to find his foot on Bollywood soil, thanks to the ugly, cringe-worthy, venomous serpent called nepotism that existed in the industry. And many prominent stars who had no Godfathers in the industry admitted that nepotism co-existed in the industry.
Probably, Sushant was looking for inclusivity, just like any outsider. Also, there were reports that the young talent had rubbed his shoulders the wrong way with some of the top producers of the industry that there was an unannounced ban on him. Well, no proof to substantiate these claims though. A post-mortem on why he contemplated to take the extreme step is fruitless at this juncture. The industry has lost him. The industry has failed him and the celebs showing their acting skills via social media platforms on how they lost a loved one is nothing but shallow emotion.
What is heart-breaking and shocking is that the actor had failed to take a leaf out of his character Aniruddh from Chhichhore, a single dad who counselled his depressed son who had attempted suicide. The film was inspirational, in a way, as it spoke at length that it is okay to lose, and more importantly, it is okay to be a loser. But, Sushant, why didn't you incorporate the lesson in your own life? Your death has ripped our hearts apart.
Sushant's death leaves behind many things to ponder over - what was in the mind of this 34 year old, successful, handsome, rich, potential superstar that made him frustrated with life, and why the thought of ending his life flashed across his mind? Why didn’t he channelize his energy towards something else other than films that he loved/cared for? Before the industry loses another Sushant, it needs to rejig and set things right. Enough of all the Bollywood drama. First things first.
Article by Divya Nair