However, for me, the highlight of the film was not the romantic storyline or everything that followed, but instead the scenes that focused on mental health.
As someone who has battled anxiety for over a decade now, I do take my pills for my mental health and get regular panic attacks. But whenever Bollywood decides to talk about anxiety or depression, it is always in an over-the-top way with panic attacks that cause the characters to turn hysterical, and family members who scramble to treat the ‘pagal’ person.
But in Gehraiyaan, Deepika’s character, Alisha can be seen taking medication, clutching her stomach while having a panic attack and dealing with her anxiety in a mature and sensible way. She has a doctor who is keeping a track of her mental health, especially her childhood trauma. And she is not ashamed of taking out her box of medication in front family and friends, because why should she be?
This happens throughout the film, even when Ananya’s character assumed that Siddharth aka Zain is taking medication for his mental health, she doesn’t make a big deal out of it. She just offers her love and support and asks him if he was seeing a doctor and going about it the right way.
Apart from all these little instances, we have the wholesome and tear-jerking conversation between Alisha and her father, portrayed by Naseeruddin Shah.
Undoubtedly one of the best written 5-minutes of the film, this conversation speaks about choices and finding strength in those who love you.
To me, the most commendable fact in the film was that Deepika herself has spoken openly about her anxiety and depression, and even runs The Live Love Laugh Foundation. Hence, she definitely knows where it comes from and does true justice to the character’s mental health. I hope Bollywood takes this an example of what happens when you cast the right actors. You get a nuanced portrayal of mental health, instead of the horror we have witnessed far too many times to count (remember Fashion, Heroine, or one of the worst, Tere Naam?)