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Upcoming film 'Mental Hai Kya' starring Kangana, Rajkummar angers mental health experts

Mental health is not a joke and it is high time filmmakers realize it. That is what disability rights groups are saying after news that a film by the title Mental Hai Kya will be released in a few months. They say the title is insensitive towards people with mental disabilities.

The poster of the film, produced by Balaji Motion Pictures, shows lead actors Kangana Ranaut and Rajkummar Rao holding out their tongues towards each other with a shaving blade balanced on them. There is a tagline that says , 'Get ready for craziness that cuts through' and 'Sanity is overrated.' The movie is said to be based on a story around mental health and hallucinations but its poster has irked many people.

Disability rights activist Dr Satendra Singh is among those to have objected to the title. In a country where mental health is a taboo topic, such insensitive images and movie titles can make the situation worse", he said. "The title is derogatory and may be used for making fun of a serious issue. People working in the mental health sector have worked hard for years to bring about the much needed change in the way people think. The advancement made in the field can be easily undone by such movie titles.

Given the many misconceptions and biases about mental health, such movies will only make the situation worse, feel many activists. Ratnaboli Ray, who is with Anjali Mental Health Rights Organisation in West Bengal, feels the poster and title are complicated, contradictory and confusing.

What are the makers trying to tell the people by saying sanity is overrated and promoting violence? Are they trying to tell people with mental issues to remain silent with tongues cut off? Is it alright to put this up just for the sake of sensationalism when people are going through struggles associated with mental illnesses? Such images are undoing the work we have been doing to change the perception of people about mental health and I condemn it. - Ratnaboli Ray,Anjali Mental Health Rights Organisation

Also under criticism is the Censor Board for clearing a film with such a title. "It is very unfortunate that even after so much progress being done in the country about mental health awareness, the biggest film industry in the world is still ignorant about it", says Dorodi Sharma, Disability Right Activist . "The passage of the RWPD Act 2016 and the Mental Health care Act is a step forward and needs to be implemented more efficiently as mental health is now a public health issue affecting millions of people."

Sharma also says that awareness about the extent of discrimination faced by people with psycho social disabilities is growing and that instead of de-stigmatizing and treating them with equality, movie images like these could do more harm.

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