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Deepika Padukone Talks About the Importance of Depicting Mental Health the Right Way in Cinema

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Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone is known to be vocal about her mental health issues and advocates the same. Back in 2015, Deepika opened up about her own mental health struggles and said that she was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2014 while shooting for Happy New Year. Ever since, the actress has not shied away from speaking about her mental health in public, a practice that was not often seen in Bollywood. The actress has also encouraged others to speak their mind.

Now, in a recent interview with Vogue, Deepika talked about the way mental health is portrayed on-screen and how far Indian cinema needs to go in terms of a more thorough portrayal of mental health. Talking of how to reach that stage, the actress said it can only be achieved with ‘understanding and empathy.’

“If an actor were portraying a character with a physical ailment, for example, they would do their research and due diligence in order to discern exactly how to depict their condition. The same courtesy needs to be extended to mental illnesses. Actors, writers and directors shouldn’t be winging it. We should afford the same honesty and authenticity to characters with mental illnesses as we do to biopics. Cinema is such a powerful medium of understanding. If mental health is depicted in the right way, it can have far-reaching consequences for a country like India, where the conversation around mental health has only just begun. Similarly, one wrong depiction could set us back by years,” she told the magazine.

The Gehraiyaan actress also added that she hopes to have a therapist present on film sets in the next few years. “Something I personally hope to do in the next few years is to have a therapist present on film sets. We have a doctor on set, so I don’t see why we can’t have a mental health professional too. During Chhapaak (2020), I brought on a therapist for myself because there were days where I would have a panic attack or feel claustrophobic—it wasn’t easy carrying the emotion that came from playing Malti for so many months.”

She shared that having a therapist hold her hand through that experience was important to her. She had a similar process for Gehraiyaan as well, she revealed. “I have already started doing this at an individual level, but as a producer, I would like to make therapy available to the whole crew,” she expressed.

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