Time to fight for the rights of mentally challenged people

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) and Indian Psychiatric Society have condemned the title and poster of a soon to be released film “Mental Hai Kya”. They have also asked the producer of the film to withdraw the trailer and also change the title and content, if it has any such provocative sequence, dialogues or songs. The film is a dark comedy centered on the lives of its two protagonists, both of whom show suicidal tendencies.

The title of a recent film “PK” may be an oblique reference to “somebody who is drunk”. Films like “Munna Bhai MBBS”, “Gabbar is Back” had also projected the medical profession in a bad taste.

Under Section 92 (a, f) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act “whoever intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a person with disability in any place within public view shall be punishable with a jail term of not less than six months, which may extend to five years, with fine.”

Films are usually a reflection of our society and portray the changing times. They do create awareness about relevant prevailing issues and often bring about much-needed change. “Rang de Basanti” was one such film.

While artistes have the right to freedom of expression, no profession or illness or disease should be shown in poor light.

To remove the stigma, the medical profession has changed the terminologies from prostitute to commercial sex worker; physically handicapped to differently abled; penis to the male organ; vagina to the female organ; retarded to mentally challenged; addicted to dependent; hinjra to transgender etc.

Mental illnesses still have a stigma attached to them. For this reason, people still hesitate to share that they have a mental illness and are reluctant to seek professional help.

The phrase “pagal hai kya” is used every now and then in daily conversation. This is because the public is generally ignorant about mental health issues. If the film is successful, “Mental Hai Kya” may well become a part of common parlance or everyday speech.

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