Movies serve as the eyes through which we see life in all its forms. We tend to relate to what we see on screen almost all the time. After all, it is always the real life that inspires stories. Movies can be considered to be a major platform to raise awareness about issues; ones that could be political, social and personal in nature. While there are documentary films that are often made to achieve this purpose, Bollywood has also produced some commercial cinema that brought to our attention some relevant issues.
Diseases and disorders for instance. A rather morbid topic, yes but we cannot turn our faces away from them. There have been examples of commercial films that while have entertained us have highlighted certain illnesses we might have little knowledge about otherwise. Bollywood has time and again tried to create interesting content related to medical conditions on celluloid. Of course, not all of them proved to be success stories.
Let us look at some of the best movies in recent times that touched on the sensitive topic of mental and physical maladies.
Black: Alzheimer`s DiseaseDirected by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and inspired by the life of Helen Keller, Black led us into the dark life of a deaf and blind girl, Michelle (Rani Mukerji) and her teacher, Debraj Sahai (Amitabh Bachchan) who later develops Alzheimer’s disease. It is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by plaques in the brain. Rani delivered a commendable performance and was very convincing in her portrayal of the deaf and mute girl and equally amazing was Amitabh Bachchan.
I: H4N2 InfluenzaIn this movie, we saw the lead actor being injected with the H4N2 Influenza virus because of which the actor gets completely deformed and becomes a hunchback. Although the Influenza virus does exist, its subtype as shown in the film is not detected in reality. The movie was therefore an imaginary spin on the existing virus. All said, we were impressed by Vikram.
Karthik Calling Karthik: Schizophrenia
Though the movie didn’t make much noise at the box-office, this psycho thriller saw Farhan Akhtar deliver one of his finest performances. It is an engrossing story that keeps you guessing. The story’s nail-biting suspense does complete justice showing the horrors of those who suffer from schizophrenia.
Ghajini: Anterograde AmnesiaThis movie actually featured a scene dedicated to the complete explanation of the problem. Anterograde amnesia is quite perplexing as it wipes away your short-term memory while leaving your long-term memory intact. Also, one is not able to create any new memories once diagnosed with this dreadful disease.
Margarita With a Straw: Cerebral PalsyThis was a bold movie based on the daily struggles of a patient suffering from cerebral palsy, which leads to permanent movement disorders. Laila, the protagonist (Kalki Koechlin), however, doesn’t consider herself weak or even different from the others. She freely experiments with her sexuality while also becoming independent at the end.
Guzaarish: Quadriplegic ParalysisQuite a depressing movie, Guzaarish, however, dealt with two important aspects. One was a medical condition known as Quadriplegic paralysis and the other was euthanasia (mercy killing).
Paa: ProgeriaWe all loved Amitabh Bachchan as the mischievous, bright and happy-go-lucky Auro. Progeria is a very rare genetic disorder (which Vidya Balan explains in detail in one of the scenes) that leads to faster ageing. The movie subtly showed the effects of a disorder like Progeria. In reality, the situations can be contrasting. The movie had a bitter climax but what matters is that we learnt a lot from it.
My Name is Khan: Asperger’s SyndromeShah Rukh Khan as Rizwan Khan (Khaaan, from the epiglottis) made everyone else seem unimportant in the film. The film boasted of some really striking dialogues but what was noticed the most was Rizwan’s mental condition. Asperger’s Syndrome, a developmental disorder, leads to problems with social interaction and nonverbal communication. Also, the patients display repetitive patterns with respect to their behaviour. These aspects of the disorder were beautifully crafted within the film and little wonder it turned out to be the success eventually.
15 Park Avenue: SchizophreniaThe movie drew the thin line that exists between illusion and reality. Through the story of Meethi (Konkona Sen Sharma), who suffers from dormant schizophrenia since childhood, the movie explores various aspects of a human being. Guilt plays an integral part in the structure of all characters. Meethi, who under shock, gets fully engulfed by the disorder suffers from recurrent delusions until she starts believing that she has a family that stays in 15 Park Avenue. The movie has a surreal climax, which is a perfect representation of the lives of all schizophrenics.