on the actor's trail

Nine times the fun in Sanjeev Kumar’s ‘Naya Din Nai Raat’

The nine roles represent each of the nine rasas.

For an actor who excelled at playing elderly characters, Sanjeev Kumar died way too early at 47. Kumar (born on July 9, 1938, as Harihar Jariwala) excelled in every type of film, whatever the size of the role. A Bhimsingh’s Naya Din Nai Raat gave him a platform to display his formidable skills like no other film – he plays nine roles that represent the nine rasas (love, joy, disgust, fury, compassion, heroism, horror, astonishment and compassion).

The roles were initially offered to Dilip Kumar, who suggested the name of his co-actor in Sunghursh (1968) instead. Naya Din Nai Raat was a remake of the Tamil film Navarathri (1964), starring Sivaji Ganesan. Two years later, Navarathri was remade in Telugu with the same title, with Akkineni Nageswara Rao stepping into Ganesan’s shoes. Both the films and the actors were critically acclaimed, as was the Hindi remake and Sanjeev Kumar’s performance.

Kumar lays out one after the other a cigar-chomping wealthy widower, an alcoholic boor who frequents brothels in search of love, an elderly psychiatrist, a fugitive, a fake godman, a rich man turned leper, an effeminate theatre actor, a valiant hunter and finally, the heroine Sushma’s lover.

The roles are set up as nine different men whom Sushma (Jaya Bachchan) meets after running away from a forced marriage. The movie is more of a comedy than a serious character study, and some of the performances are hit-and-miss. The three roles in which Kumar is particularly effective are the vengeful fugitive, the cheating godman and the theatre artist. As the fugitive, Sanjeev Kumar, with blackface, curly hair and a thick moustache, looks suitably menacing as he growls and thunders while describing how his erstwhile boss killed his brother who fell in love with the boss’s daughter. He is at his best when he switches from godman to thief. Finally, as the theatre artist, Sanjeev Kumar gives a two-in-one treat as an effete man of the arts in one moment and a prodigal gambler on stage in the next.

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Naya Din Nai Raat - title song.
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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.

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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.

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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.