Veteran filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, who is gearing up for the release of his forthcoming film The Dark Side of Life: Mumbai City, said that we are lacking in generating awareness about mental illness in our country. The filmmaker spoke about the depression epidemic and the growing cases of suicide in the country citing the example of daughter Shaheen, actor Alia Bhatt’s sister.
Bhatt said, “It’s a form of mental illness and it can be treated. When you suffer with diabetes then, you have to take insulin shots. Similarly, when you are prone towards depression then you need to consult a doctor who can treat you through medication but, I think in our country, we are lacking in generating awareness about mental illness. Almost in every household people are suffering from depression.”
Alia Bhatt with sister Shaheen.
Giving the example of his own daughter Shaheen Bhatt, Mahesh Bhatt said, “My daughter Shaheen, Alia’s elder sister, she, at the age of 16 discovered finally that she is suffering from clinical depression. In October, she is launching her own memoir in which she has talked about the kind of struggle she has gone through in that phase.”
He revealed that she was at the point where she thought about committing suicide. “She also came to a point of attempting a suicide at the age of 12-13 so this is the truth of my own house. Jiah Khan once came to us asking for work but that time somehow, we were not able to work with her, but later when she committed suicide and we visited her house it felt really bad,” he said.
Shaheen, in a Vogue article, had written about her struggle with depression. “I’ve lived with depression since I was 12 years old and since then I’ve been suicidal on more than one occasion. I’ve experienced the sheer terror of contemplating a life filled with unrelenting anguish, and I’ve been consumed by the terrifying thought of having but a single means of escape from a bleak, unbearable future,” she had said.
Talking about immense pressure of surviving in the film industry, Bhatt said, “It’s a high stress business that’s why not many can do it and that’s why you have people who are prone to substance abuse, mood swings and you have tendency to gravitate towards depression because you are dependent continuously on audience reaction.
Mahesh Bhatt was interacting with media at the trailer launch of the film along with his co-actors Nikhil Ratnaparakhi, Allisha Khan, director Tariq Khan and producer Rajesh Pardasani on Monday in Mumbai. The film addresses many sensitive issues like loneliness, communal harmony and mental health that exist in our society.