Doctor gets mad at Kyon Ki... quirks

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  • Published 8.12.05

Mumbai, Dec. 8: Someone has at last raised a voice against the depiction of “paagalpan (insanity)” in Hindi movies.

Dr Harish Shetty, a psychiatrist in Mumbai, moved the National Human Rights Commission last week alleging that the film Kyon Ki? featuring Salman Khan and Kareena Kapoor violates the rights of the mentally ill and spreads false information about mental illness.

The film, directed by heavyweight filmmaker from Kerala Priyadarshan and released on November 2, is the story of Anand, the character played by Salman, who is shown to have lost his mental balance after the death of his lady love.

He is admitted to a private nursing home, where Kareena works as a doctor. She learns of his sad past, decides to help him out and falls in love, not necessarily in that order.

The nursing home is referred to as a “mental asylum”. There, guards beat up patients habitually and the patients behave in a manner so as to extract laughs from the audience and are always called “paagal”. All these are in keeping with time-honoured Hindi film tradition. But that’s not all.

Dr Shetty, in application number 964/13 2005-2006 to the rights commission, which he filed on Friday on behalf of Maitri, a support group for patients suffering from schizophrenia and mental illness, lists the reasons why the film violates rights of the mentally ill. He stresses on the treatment meted out to patients.

“The electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) is shown to be administered directly without anaesthesia and the scene is horrifying. The therapy should be given with anaesthesia as is practised in the country now. This spreads misconception about ECT,” he said.

“A psychiatrist is shown performing a brain surgery, lobotomy, which is no longer the treatment for patients suffering from schizophrenia, and psychiatrists don’t perform surgery,” he added.

Dr Shetty points out the representation of the mentally ill and the language used to describe them and their perception.

“The mentally ill are constantly ridiculed and the word ‘paagal’ is used always. A senior doctor says ‘the schizophrenics are murderers and rapists. If they are let out in public, they will go and murder some one and rape the girls’, and all patients are shown as objects of ridicule,” he said.

These violate the provisions of the Disability Act, 1995, the National Human Rights Commissions guidelines and the human rights provisions of the Constitution.

The I&B ministry has been asked to get back to the rights commission within January 19 on the application. The film’s spokesperson did not seem aware of the application. He was not ready with a reaction.