Archive for June, 2009

Some time last month Dr Sarin asked me if I was interested in joining a panel to speak about depiction of psychiatric disorder in films and books and media. I agreed. Early this month he sent out the list of panelists and I find myself sharing space with Daman Singh author of Nine by Nine, Dr Parvez Imam, a psychiatrist turned film maker, and Syed Amjad Ali, an educational film maker who has recently made a short film on Schizophrenia called The Unreal Reality.

I read Nine by Nine. It is a brilliant portrayal of a mind losing its sense of ‘reality’ and how an illness runs through generations in a family. Daman Singh does not state the name of any psychiatric disorder but the depiction of her character Tara’s mind comes closest to Bi Polar Disorder. A rose by any other name or no name will smell as sweet. I have read a couple of other fiction books on psychiatric disorders including The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, written under the pen name Victoria Lucas, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Joanne Greenberg, written under the pen name Hannah Green, the novels of Adeline Virginia Woolf, the plays of Edward Albee. I have seen the movies A Beautiful Mind, Girl, Interrupted and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, where I like the book far more than the movie, and 15 Park Avenue.

In none of them except The Bell Jar is a psychiatric disorder depicted as it is understood by me – someone who has experienced it and seen it closely. From inside the mind which is changing its sense of the world. There is an element of drama in the fiction and films around psychiatric disorders which takes away the reader’s or viewer’s attention from the disorder to a tiny bit more fancy state of mind which makes the reader or viewer almost seek it as a better way of being. In some of the works the form takes over the content. For example, Woolf’s stream-of-consciousness, or Albee’s absurd theatre. I found Daman Singh’s portrayal and the last scenes of Nine by Nine most real to what I know of the disorder. She really gets into the mind of the character.

Ever since I have come to Delhi and have been making friends I have heard Dr. Parvez’s name in various contexts. I want to meet him. Amjad sent his film over. This film is needed. I wish I had seen it when I was dealing with Schizophrenia. I would have understood more, been better equipped.

All of us are meeting with Dr. Anirudh Kala at Gulmohar Hall, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi, on June 19 at 7 PM.

You are invited. Come and participate in the discussion. I do not think we will bore you. :)

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