Human mind has always been an unsolved mystery. Like deep sea, it could appear calm on surface while hiding a raging storm inside. An imbalanced mind affected by a psychological disorder, with its constantly ongoing conflict between real and unreal worlds presents an even more challenging scenario. In most Indian movies, such mental illnesses have either been trivialized through comedy or presented with an unrealistic melodrama. But here are few films which cast a different and a much more sympathetic, compassionate and realistic look at psychological disorders.
Raat Aur Din (1967)
Soon after marrying, the bewildered husband (Pradeep Kumar) starts noticing bizarre behaviour from his otherwise meek and conservative wife (Nargis). In the middle of the night she disappears from home and is brought home drunk and apparently after having a rollicking time at a night-club! Slowly it starts to emerge that she is having a severe schizophrenia (split personality), where the other half of her personality is that of a carefree westernized girl Peggy- who was once her childhood neighbour!
Inspired by the Hollywood classic ‘Three Faces of Eve’, this movie was perhaps the first Hindi film to maturely portray a psychological illness. Nargis, who so brilliantly essayed the central role, got a Filmfare Best Actress award for this realistic performance.
Maine Gandhi Ko Nahi Maara (2005)
A retired professor (Anupam Kher), who was once a renowned author slowly starts losing grip with the reality. In his confused state of mind, he starts to believe that he was the one who murdered Mahatma Gandhi! With the help of an expert psychiatrist, his daughter (Urmila Matondkar) tries to make sense of her father’s hallucinations, in order to find a cure. What secret will they find out?
It’s a thought-provoking film with some terrific performances which not only shows the depths of despair resulting out of dementia (a mental illness) but it also makes a caustic commentary on how the present-day society has turned into a killer of the Gandhian ideology!
15 Park Avenue (2005)
It is yet another disturbing and even depressing film, which depicts the tragic travails of a young girl (Konkona Sen), who is a victim of advanced schizophrenia. The film also accurately portrays the mind-numbing effects such debilitating mental illness often has on the patient’s near and dear ones. Director Aparna Sen spares no efforts in explaining the medical reality of this often misunderstood psychological disorder. Excellent performances and an enigmatic ending are other notable features of this film.