In Alejandro Monteverde’s American film Little Boy (2015), eight-year-old Pepper Flynt Busbee (Jakob Salvati) is perennially bullied for being short and nicknamed “little boy” a small town in California .
In Kabir Khan’s Tubelight, Laxman Singh Bisht (Salman Khan) is an oddball who is known as “Tubelight” owing to his dense self in a Dehradun village.
Soon after the first teaser for the June 23 release was rolled out, director Kabir Khan cleared the air over alegations that the film was a copy of Little Boy. “It is in the credits of Tubelight as Official Story Adaptation. But it’s just the seed of an idea. Everything else has been completely changed in Tubelight,” he told the DNA newspaper.
Both films explore the themes of self-belief and unparalleled love – one for a father (Little Boy) and the other for a brother (Tubelight). Set in the fictional town of O’Hare in California amidst World War II, Little Boy stars Michael Rapaport as James Busbee and Salvati as his son Pepper.
Mocked for his tiny stature, Pepper finds respite in his father, who urges him to nurture faith in himself. The boy’s life is shattered when his father leaves home to fight the Japanese and is taken prisoner. Pepper doesn’t give into despair. When a priest reads out a verse from the Bible, “If we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move a mountain,” Pepper takes the words literally. He begins his quest to bring back his father and end the war itself with nothing but conviction and an unlikely Japanese friend (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa).
Stellar performances aside, the film was slammed by critics for its excessive melodrama and outlandish faith-based undertones.
Set against the backdrop of the Sino-Indian war, Tubelight is sure to feature appropriate Bollywood equivalents. “If you have belief one can move mountains,” says Om Puri in the trailer, mimicking the priest from Little Boy. The film stars Sohail Khan as Salman Khan’s brother in the film, while Chinese actress Zhu Zhu makes her Bollywood debut. There is a little boy in Tubelight too: the cherubic Matin Tey Tangu.
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.
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. Otherpatients 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 agowas 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.