Opening this week

‘Judwaa 2’ film review: The 1990s clearly never went away

Varun Dhawan shines in a double role in David Dhawan’s reboot of his 1997 comedy.

David Dhawan can be credited with elevating the irreverent and guileless streetsmart Mumbai layabout to Hindi film hero status. While angry and intense young men continued to be cast as heroes in the 1990s, Dhawan, along with the support of the genius Govinda, gave us another option – the unapologetically silly and always-ready-to-burst-into-a-jig leading man who fought and romanced passionately without taking himself seriously.

Judwaa 2, starring Varun Dhawan in a double role, continues the tradition.

One of a pair of identical male twins born to the Malhotras (Sachin Khedekar and Prachi Shah) is kidnapped from his hospital crib. Prem (Varun Dhawan) is brought up in London by his parents, while Raja (Dhawan again) is raised by a fisherwoman in Mumbai.

Prem grows up to be a timid musician, while Raja is an outrageous flirt. Prem is paired with Samara (Taapsee Pannu) while Raja bumps into Alishka (Jacqueline Fernandez) on a flight. The men are twinned by reflexes, meaning that when one performs an action, the other does so too, leading to loads of confusion and giving the script the required meat. (The plot borrows many of its basic ideas from the 1992 Jackie Chan comedy Twin Dragons).

If you discount the costumes and the slick production design and camerawork, the movie offers absolutely no novelty. The story and treatment are still stuck in the 1990s, when the original film Judwaa (starring Salman Khan and released in 1997) was made. The screenplay doesn’t allow itself to venture too far away from the original, as though worried it won’t find its way back. Even two of Anu Malik’s foot-tapping hits from the original, Aati Hai Kya Nau Se Baarah and Lift Teri Band Hai have been remixed for the new version.

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Judwaa 2 (2017).

Even so, Judwaa 2 keeps you entertained. Sajid-Farhad, master writers in the silly dialogue department, come up with numerous chuckle-worthy gags. One won’t be surprised if lines such as “Dua me aur muah me yaad rakhna” survive long after the movie has disappeared from the theatres.

The film is intended for and belongs to Varun Dhawan. He clearly enjoys what he is doing and shines in both the roles. He has clearly worked hard at keeping the characters different from each other. However, the heroines are ornamental and embarrassingly tolerant of the blatant sexism by the men they adore. Both Pannu and Fernandez look gorgeous, wear teensy-weensy clothes, giggle a lot and serve their intended purpose. The film has too many characters floating around without justifying their presence. Johnny Lever, Anupam Kher, Pawan Malhotra, and Manoj Joshi are largely wasted.

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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.

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.

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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.