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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Filmmaker Suchita Bhhatia Is Creating Awareness About Mental Health With The Project ‘Joy’

  • IWB Post
  •  May 15, 2019

So many of us are downright unhappy with “the system,” “the society,” “the world,” “insert whatever you call it.” So many of us are constantly asking for change. We ask for a revolution, rather demand it. But wait, what exactly are we ourselves doing as we wait for someone to come and take charge?

While there will always exist the skeptics who dismiss art as obsolete and trivial, the truth is that they fail to realize its potency, they fail to realize that art changes the world. But again how will they while they are busy reading pulp fiction curated to someday culminate into a Bollywood masala film?

Again, how do we expect change while we quite often than not dismiss those who finally shoulder the responsibility as unimportant? However, despite our failure to acknowledge the good work that these individuals are doing they continue doing it all nevertheless.

Suchita Bhhatia is one such filmmaker who has been relentlessly working for social change through her movies which aim to create awareness about mental health issues. She has also been using her movies to bring attention to the heroes of our society who continue to persevere despite all the odds.

As she recently connected with me over the phone, Suchita shared how her journey with these movies started and how rocky It has been so far owing to lack of understanding and support.

Growing up, Suchita saw someone in her own family struggling with mental health. It was not easy and the lack of awareness and infrastructure just made it worse.

She says, “Delhi doesn’t have an infrastructure for mental health, it’s very very poor and whatever help comes, it comes at a very very high cost. Mental health was something that I was trying to explain to my family about, things like what we should do and how we should approach the situation.”

She tried the same with everyone around her. They were all well-educated people and yet most of them failed to understand the idea.

“In our country, the understanding of mental health is zero, in educated people as well and that explains why most of them failed to accept and understand what I was trying to say,” says Suchita.

She adds, “That is when I realized that as a filmmaker, I should do whatever’s in my capacity to make people understand what is mental health, what is bipolar, what is schizophrenia, what is depression. Depression is a word which is very casually used in our day to day life. People don’t understand the reality and the intensity of it.”

Suchita thus started her research on mental health disorders. “I got connected to a lot of support groups in Delhi. Like there is Bhor foundation. Two women, who work for the foundation, were dealing with mental health disorders on a very personal level and I thought they should be included in the film. Then there is another woman Subha, who is heavily bipolar. But she is living, she is a copywriter and she is earning her own story. These were very very inspiring stories where people with mental health were challenging their status quo.”

Suchita has also been trying to get in touch with the Ministry of Health in an attempt to get their help to spread awareness and working in the same direction.

When asked what is that one thing that we really need to understand when it comes to mental health, she says, “Let’s understand this with an example. Consider those suffering from Bipolar disorder. These people go through extreme emotional fluctuations. Certainly, medical attention is needed but everyone fails to see that.”

She adds, “We are not a society that doesn’t easily go out asking for help in mental health cases. Everything is pushed under the carpet. We should be more open about this. We need to create this in our culture.”

That’s exactly what Suchita is trying to do with her films as well. The first set of four films from the series created under the Joy Project were released on 10th October 2017, World Mental Health Day.

The project was no cake walk and funding posed a big issue. Suchita tried to survive by doing most of her work all by her self.

She has now started working for the second set of films as well and is considering to crowdfund her project.

“People don’t even understand what things like bipolar, schizophrenia, etc. are. They are like “how this is possible.” It is something very scary and unfathomable for them and that is what I want to change. Creating awareness is vital,” says Suchita.

She adds, “I can do as much as I can as an independent filmmaker but you know to put your content out there again you need a certain amount of push and support.”

Another big problem that Suchita has been facing is that despite knowing that they are struggling with mental health issues, people refuse to come out with their problem. While there are so many who recognize the importance of what she is doing, the taboo stops them from being vocal about it.

Like Suchita says, “Everybody is not Deepika Padukone, people don’t want to come out. We need to change this culture.”

Suchita has been also been working on her feature film all this while inspired from the true life of an eight-year-old boy, who fought to make a school in his own village. There’s yet another fight that she has to fight here. The film has been stuck because of the paucity of funds.

Suchita shares, “It took me almost nine years to get funding for the film’s production.I finished the shoot in March last year and it got stuck in post-production because of the funding.”

“You have no idea how much struggle an independent filmmaker has to go through in the country. There is no structure for funding and great films are dying in the process. Everybody is like Netflix you know, they only want to work with established well-known names and brands,” she adds.

 

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