The year in review

Best of Bollywood 2015 countdown: ‘Badlapur’

Sriram Raghavan’s thriller is an excellent meditation on crime, punishment and redemption.

Next on our countdown of 2015’s best films, which kicked off with Titli, is Sriram Raghavan’s Badlapur, starring Varun Dhawan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui as antagonists. Raghavan breaks break down the moment when the person taking revenge is eclipsed by the target of vengeance.

Badlapur

Raghavan’s tenderness towards hard-boiled material has endured ever since he made his first video feature, Raman Raghav, in 1991. He is among the few Indian directors to have successfully Indianised elements of film noir and detective fiction, finding convincing local equivalents of reckless punters, gangland bosses, flimflam artists, compromised policemen, femme fatales and hard-nosed survivors.

Badlapur is a juicy tale of revenge and unlikely redemption, adapted from Italian writer Massimo Carlotto’s novel Death’s Dark Abyss and co-written by Raghavan, his long-time collaborator and editor Pooja Ladha Surti, and Arijit Biswas. A bank robbery results in the unintended deaths of the hostages, a mother and her son. Liak, the man who is convicted for the crime, insists that he hasn’t pulled the trigger, and blames the deaths on his missing partner. The husband, Raghav, lives a meaningless life for several years until he gets a shot at revenge.

Varun Dhawan plays the wounded husband as best as he can, and Raghavan assembles a fine supporting cast, but Badlapur belongs to Nawazuddin Siddiqui. The moment when Liak renders Raghav’s vendetta meaningless is delicately written and fabulously performed by the actor. The scene involves a conversation between Liak and his mother, played by Pratima Kannan, about stale rice.

Play

The sequence is preceded by a revelatory encounter between Liak and Raghav that turns Raghav’s mission on its head, and a meeting between Liak and his sweetheart, Jhimli (Huma Qureshi). “These three scenes are linked, and one goes into the other,” said Raghavan, who has a reputation for last-minute rewrites in the middle of shoots. “We were also going to include a five to six-minute sequence of Liak and Jhimli going to a resort in Ganpatipule and staying there until Liak’s money runs out.” Fortunately, this dirty weekend was never filmed. “If I had shot it, I would used it out of guilt,” Raghavan said.

Liak decides to set his own terms for his redemption after a short and sharp remark by his mother. However, Raghavan didn’t know exactly what Kannan would say. “Liak has decided what he is going to do at this point in the film, and the conversation is a catalyst,” Raghavan said. But how was it to be expressed without being too obvious? Enter Jaideep Sahni, lyricist and writer and an old friend of Raghavan’s. “Jaideep had watched an early cut, and I called him up for advice,” Raghavan said. “He said over the phone, ‘Purane chawal mein kayko keede dhoond raha hai?’ (What is the point of raking up the past?) Pratima loved the line, and although I wasn’t sure what it meant, we used it.”

For our story on Titli, see here.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

Play

During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.