Integrating Mental health issues isn’t easy to pull off in films, and it’s clearly back-breaking for Bollywood. Over the years, filmmakers have made an attempt, in many ways, to incorporate the subject in films. Some of them barely managed to put across their point, others failed miserably. The new addition to the list, Aanand L Rai’s film has started the conversation around how Bollywood views mental illness.

Among the films which opted to include the subject, we have rounded up a few which got it right (at least more than Atrangi Re). 

1. Karthik Calling Karthik


One of the earliest attempts that Bollywood made at dealing with mental health issues was with the Farhan Akhtar starrer Karthik Calling Karthik. The film rightly integrated mental illness in the storyline through the delusions and hallucinations that the main character deals with. Karthik, who has a normal life, is guided through life by an anonymous caller. However, things go haywire when he discloses this secret to his girlfriend, played by Deepika Padukone. The latter doesn’t abandon Karthik upon learning that he suffers from schizophrenia. 

2. 15 Park Avenue

Learning and Creativity

The film which deals with the same subject does it with more depth and sensitivity. Konkana Sen Sharma who features as the schizophrenic is convincingly realistic. She hallucinates of an alternate reality with a loving husband and kids. The cinematic masterpiece by Aparna Sen portrays the effects of the disorder not only on the victim, but also on her family. 

3. A Death in the Gunj

India Today

Konkana Sen Sharma’s A Death in the Gunj, which makes Shutu, a mostly ignored member of a dysfunctional family, the central character here. Through Vikrant Massey’s character the film puts a spotlight on bullying, emotional abuse, depression and trauma. 

4. Tamasha 

News 18

A film people hardly comprehended was Imtiaz Ali directorial Tamasha. The makers do not affirm the mental health issue the protagonist, Ved, is suffering from. But throughout the film he shows many behavioural problems. He struggles with an identity crisis due to imposed social norms. 

5. Dear Zindagi

NY Times

The film and Alia Bhatt was lauded for taking up a subject such as depression and abandonment issues. The creators mostly get the portrayal right and take a step ahead in destigmatizing therapy and mental health talks. 

6. Black

The Indian Express

An extremely popular cinematic project helmed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali depicts the bond between a teacher and his student. However, on a deeper level it delves into heightened anxiety and memory loss, people suffering with Alzheimer‘s go through. 

7. Barfi

My Good Times

If you can get past the portions ‘inspired’ from The Notebook, Barfi had one of the best performances delivered by Priyanka Chopra. She portrays Jhilmil, a girl with an Autism spectrum disorder. Although the film could have delved more into her disorder, it wasn’t a total disservice to the field of mental health. 

8. My Name Is Khan


Among various issues that the film touches upon, the protagonist Rizwan Khan’s Asperger syndrome was one. Shah Rukh Khan features as the lead who suffers from a syndrome which falls under the umbrella of autism spectrum disorders. The makers appropriately integrate a character with a mental illness and the actor aced the portrayal of Rizwan’s character. 

9. Bhool Bhulaiyaa

Mirchi play

Priyadarshan’s Bhool Bhulaiyaa might be a comedy on the surface but it does shed ample light on mental health and stigma around it. Rather than making a mockery out of the protagonist’s dissociative identity disorder, the film focuses on the ignorant mindset.  

From Kamal Hassan’s Sadma to the most recent Atrangi Re, the depiction has changed drastically. But is it getting better?