Bollywood controversy

Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor learn the hard way that Taimur is not just another name

The name of the star couple’s first-born has prompted a hysteria that is typical of these times.

One of the most breathlessly followed pregnancies ended on December 20 with the birth of a baby boy. His parents decided to name him after one of the most controversial and feared conquerors in history, ensuring that baby Taimur Ali Khan Pataudi generated as much online hysteria in his crib as he did from his mother’s womb.

While it is the unquestionable right of all parents to name their child after anybody or anything (ask the Bengalis and the Malayalis), the young Taimur has brought his parents under intense scrutiny. The nation wanted to know: what were they thinking?

Kareena Kapoor Khan never claimed to be the well-read one. But Saif Ali Khan, whose blood, in popular imagination, still has a tinge of royal blue, has always had intellectual aspirations. After all, not every Bollywood star goes to Winchester College or claims to have read The History of Israel while shooting for a zombie comedy.

It would seem curious that the Nawab of such erudition would choose to name his third-born and first child with his second wife after Timur, also known as Tamerlane, the Turco-Moghul conqueror who was allegedly responsible for one of the biggest massacres of Indians in 1399 AD. At a time when national pride has been at its shrillest, was this display of scholarship a bit mistimed?

Perhaps not.

There was an expected rush to Google “Timur”, with insta-historians sharing a few insights about the conqueror and master strategist’s “army of terror”. There were also other results that showed the name in a more favourable light – resolute as iron, leader, the one. A different, more dispassionate reading of Timur’s reign says he was a brilliant general and a keen mathematician. Perhaps, the parents wished to focus on the qualities that would someday come in handy for their newborn. Perhaps, during one of their many vacations on the slopes of Gstaad, the couple had looked at history through misty lenses and hoped that the future would be kinder.

After all, the world was hell-bent on branding the boy Saifeena for life, remember?

So kudos to the famous parents for not only holding out, but also cocking a snook at trolls, stalkers and armchair historians. Better go with a conqurer from history than to submit to invaders of privacy.

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.