Dear Zindagi: Unraveling The Stigma Around Therapy With Indian Cinema

Starring the incredible Shah Rukh Khan as Dr.Jehangir and the impeccable Alia Bhatt as Kaira, this film revolves around Kaira, who goes through major life changes and suffers from insomnia. She visits Dr.Jehangir, who helps treat her in many unique ways.

This film is directed by the outstanding Gauri Shinde and was released in 2016.

“Zindagi ek jigsaw puzzle ki tarah hai; mere jaise log us puzzle ke khoye hue tukde, sirf dhoondne aur jodne mein madad kar sakte hai, par only you can complete the puzzle!”

Translation: “Life is like a jigsaw puzzle; people like me only help with finding the lost pieces of the puzzle, but only you can complete the puzzle.”

Dr. Jehangir (Shah Rukh Khan) in Dear Zindagi

Why This Movie Is Important For Indian Cinema

As mentioned in the title of this article, there is a lot of stigma around therapy and mental health. This is not to say that there is more awareness now, however, a huge part of the population in India is still not open to the idea of speaking out about mental health issues.

While colleges and universities in India are informing students about the gravity of therapy and how to receive and ask for help when needed, these syllabi are mainly circulated in the major cosmopolitan cities of India. The older generation in India is yet to open up to such ideas. There are many reasons why the concept of mental health is not entertained by the public in India, they cannot all be listed, hence are 3 reasons:

  1. Those who have mental health issues are viewed as ‘crazy’ and people tend to avoid such topics or people.
  2. There is a strong belief that those who are suffering from mental health issues are a disgrace to their family or are ruining their family’s reputation.
  3. While not a lot of people believe in this, there is a part of society that believes that such issues are the work of black magic or the consequences of sins committed by the person who has mental health problems.

This movie disguises itself as a gateway to information and awareness of mental health problems and the proper ways to get treated for them. Dr.Jehangir (Shah Rukh Khan) plays the role of a therapist who aids Kaira (Alia Bhatt) through her problems, the Indian society was exposed to the idea of therapy and that it works for everybody, and is something that one should not be ashamed of admitting.

Why This Movie Is Special To Me?

“Don’t let your past blackmail your present, to ruin your beautiful future.”

Dr. Jehangir, Dear Zindagi

Alia Bhatt’s character in the film was a character that was able to touch every person’s heart, especially those who have unresolved childhood trauma or buried emotions. This film was like a gift to those people who had a hard time expressing and understanding one’s own feelings and emotions. Extraordinarily, a lot of Indians related to Kaira and her problems and felt the burden of shame lifted off of them when it came to considering therapy. As mentioned before, the conservation revolving around mental health and therapy was very hushed down. This movie brought it into the light in a positive manner, encouraging those that asking for help does not necessarily mean one is weak.

The plot of the film revolved around Kaira’s trauma which was rooted in her childhood. In psychology, our childhood experiences have a very strong impact on one’s future and personality. The same goes for Kaira. Kaira’s relationship with her parents was affected deeply due to her childhood experiences. And part of her problems stems from the same reason. Thus, she visits Dr. Jehangir, who tells her the importance of understanding her parents, learning from her experiences, and leaving the past behind. This may feel familiar to many others in the world, as most people have gone through some childhood trauma, that they still need to heal from. This movie allows them to do so.

Hence much like the Indian public, I too was very inspired by this film. It reassured me that everybody has their own hurdles and obstacles in life that they have to pass, and that everybody is in the same boat. That asking for help is never a sign of weakness, but instead courage. Because seeking help means accepting that you do need help and guidance. Acceptance of your problems is a crucial step in order to go forward and resolve it.

By the end of the film, I was on the verge of tears. Tears of both sadness as well as happiness, as Kaira grows and learns to love life again. Watching this character resolve her hurdle and come past it, motivated me to do the same. Leaving the past behind, understanding your emotions, and simply moving on.

Why You Should Watch This Film?

  1. It is a film that encourages people to heal from their past trauma.
  2. It restores hope in people’s hearts, that you can still learn to love life.
  3. It is a movie that breaks the stigma around therapy and mental health, spreading positive awareness of seeking help.
  4. It is a film which reminds people of the most important thing, which is that it is okay to cry, feel mad, to love and to be happy!
  5. It comforts people that help is given when asked for.
  6. And finally, because the marvelous Shah Rukh Khan and astounding Alia Bhatt star in it, giving one of the best performances in their career!

Some Of My Favorite Quotes From The Film

“Genius woh nahi hota jiske paas har sawaal ka jawab ho … genius woh hota hai jiske paas har jawaab tak pahunchne ka patience ho”

(A person who has the answer to every question is not a genius … a genius is a person who has the patience to get to every answer)

“Kabhi kabhi hum mushkil rasta sirf is liye chunte hai … kyun ki humein lagta hai, important cheezein paane ke liye humein mushkil rasta apnana chahiye … apne aap ko punish karna bahut zaroori samajhte hai … but why, aasaan rasta kyun nahi chun sakte … kya burai hai us mein … khaas karke jab us mushkil ka saamna karne ke liye hum taiyaar hi nahi hai”

(Sometimes we choose a difficult path only because … we feel that to attain important things we need to choose a difficult path … we think that it’s important to punish ourselves … but why can’t we choose a simple path … what’s wrong with that … especically when we are not ready to face that difficult path)

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