Mental health is a huge concern right now. From the lockdown that has extended for months now to the pandemic that has claimed so many lives, mental health has taken a huge toll.
After the death of Sushant Singh Rajput in mid-June, the internet blew up with ‘compassionate’ statuses and assurance of ‘being there for each other’.
But the reality stands far from this. How many people are actually there for each other? An actor Prathamesh Barge who has 107K followers on Instagram decided to speak up on this matter. His onscreen character is named Mukund Mishra, who hails from a village in Jaunpur district in UP.
In Prathamesh’s recent video on hypocrisy and mental health, he delivers the story of young Mukund and his dream of ‘making machines’.
Mukund’s father Manohar Lal Mishra always dreamt of making Mukund the first engineer of his village. Timid Mukund grows up following his father’s instructions of studying hard and being diligent towards education.
He couldn’t face his father’s dejection and decided to do what his father decided. He sacrificed enjoying with old friends, making new friends and even let go of his love for cricket to be successful in life. “Humko cricket boht accha lagta tha. Kahin aur zyada accha na lagne lage, isliye chorr diya khelna.”
He finally graduated from school and moved to Mumbai for engineering against his own wishes. Prathamesh in his video gives an elaborate description of how life in Mumbai is incredibly different from anything, his character Mukund had ever experienced.
The socio economic and cultural difference that he mentions is the reality for thousands of students who move to a bigger city for job or education.
College student Mukund falls trap to loneliness among the concrete jungle and glitter of Mumbai. After months of trying to fit in, a miracle happens just before Semester 2 exams. Fellow classmates want to be friends with him! In exchange of notes and lectures, Mukund earns inclusion, friendship and taste of city life. But that was short-lived. With the lockdown, all his ‘friends’ deserted him.
The sad truth is that he tried to reach out. From sending memes to inquiring of their health, he reached out but no one reciprocated his efforts.
The same people after Sushant Singh Rajput’s death flooded Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp stories with promises to ‘be there to listen when you need me’.
Prathamesh’s acting hits home when his voice breaks while asking “Aur kitna giroge tumlog?” (how low will you all steep down?).
He draws focus to two very important problems. One, how in India even today mental illness is not a ‘real’ illness. Secondly, how people use the trauma, the concept of mental illness as content for social media.
Just like Mukund’s father, thousands of people all around India are ignorant of the solemnity of depression, anxiety or any other mental ailment. Even today in villages, mental illness is synonymous with paranormal activities.
On the other hand, the other reality is that social media has made life easier but has definitely made us lonelier. Being there for each other is content for likes and followers.
He ends his enlightening video with the request to actually be there for people around you who are begging to be heard.
Sushant Singh Rajput’s death brought forward many people speaking up about hypocrisy through social media and complete disregard of human feelings. With the safety of being behind the screen, we do not hesitate to type out anything which could be mean to other’s sentiments. From Rajat Barmecha to Deepika Padukone, many took to stand for the importance of mental health.