Mental Hai Kya?’
It’s a phrase you’ve probably overheard someone say in response to something or someone they found ridiculous or bizarre.Though incredibly problematic, offensive and disrespectful to those with mental health issues, you probably let it slide. (Maybe, even said it yourself?)
However, the popular acceptance of the phrase has resulted in its transformation as the go-to exclamation for people when they want to point out somebody doing bizarre or crazy things. Especially for Bollywood, which has co-opted “being mental” to define ‘craziness’ and not always the clinical kind. And now, they’ve very literally named a film ‘Mental Hai Kya?’
The first-look poster for the film which was released on 17th April, has created quite a buzz on the Internet – but perhaps not for the reasons you’d think. The poster for the movie, starring Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao in the lead roles, has been drawing flak on Twitter for the terrible depiction of ‘crazy’ and for its insensitive naming.
The poster, featuring Kangana and Rajkummar, shows the two actors facing each other as they balance a blade between their tongues. But that’s not all – there’s a video showing why exactly they’re ‘crazy’ with scenes depicting mindless violence such as Rajkummar Rao stubbing a lit cigarette out on his forehead or Kangana Ranaut lying in a chalk-out of a body.
Captioned “Get ready for craziness that cuts through,” to add cutting-edge wit to the poster, Balaji Motion Pictures posted a tweet showing the poster. ‘Sanity is overrated’ the poster says. Is it, now?
Get ready for craziness that cuts through. #MentalHaiKya – releasing on 21st June 2019. #MentalHaiKyaOn21stJune#KanganaRanaut @RajkummarRao @ektaravikapoor @RuchikaaKapoor @ShaaileshRSingh @pkovelamudi @KanikaDhillon @KanganaFanClub pic.twitter.com/yZYoW35Ee4
— BalajiMotionPictures (@balajimotionpic) April 17, 2019
The poster has drawn intense flak for exploiting mental health issues and for depicting the protagonists as actual, violent threats to themselves and society at large.
This isn’t out of the ordinary for Bollywood – to create outrageous situations to sell their movies. However, while the hype certainly sold it and #MentalHaiKya started trending on Twitter, a lot of people including psychologists and mental health experts pointed out just how problematic the marketing and the promotion of this film is.
Here s why we need to #Bridgethegap in all aspects with regards to #Mentalhealth scenario in India. upcoming movie #mentalhaikya -the name, the images super triggering and loaded with stigma @netshrink @AnantBhan @chibberratna @VijayNallawala @mentalhealthind @healthcollectif . pic.twitter.com/DHGhfUF2CN
— Smriti Joshi (@SmritiSawhney) April 17, 2019
Bollywood, maybe it’s time you hired someone to check and sign off on what’s “cool” and what is just straight up problematic?
At a time when we should be encouraging healthy conversation about mental health and awareness and normalizing the stigma around it, this movie perhaps will act as a huge leap backwards into the past.
Mental Hai Kya” is being made under Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Motion Pictures and is co-produced by Shailesh Singh. Reportedly, actress Amyra Dastur plays a crucial role in the film and has been paired opposite Rajkummar, romantically. The film also marks the reunion of Kangana and Rajkummar after five years.