I think our minds, and the thoughts they contain, are wonderful, complex, powerful things. They can be knaves – teasing, lying and manipulative. They can create webs of fantasies for us to believe. They can alter our perception of what is and can be. They help us dream and rise above ourselves but they can just as easily have us fall. The conscious mind, the subconscious, Jung’s collective unconscious, dreams, thoughts, hallucinations, memories, daydreams, the real, the unreal, truth, hypnosis, telepathy, intuition, instinct – where does one end and the other begin? I find it fascinating, intriguing.
When I began the process of making the film, I believed that Schizophrenia, although a difficult condition, was one that could be managed with medicines. And that medicines worked for everyone.
But my research for the film – the books I read, the stories I heard, the people I met – began to take me elsewhere, much to my own discomfort.
This film has challenged me in many ways. It has forced me to re-examine my own views on a number of things. I have had to accept things and ideas, which I would have earlier dismissed as being irrational and illogical. There have been many, many times when the film has troubled me with where it has taken me. There have been times I have been scared of my own film!
As a society, we have come to lay a lot of emphasis on rationality, reason and the primacy of the mind. We define ourselves through our minds’ ability to distinguish between the ‘real’ and the ‘unreal’. It is our intellectual prowess that gives us our place in society.
When the mind plays tricks with us, loosens its grip on what we as a people have agreed to believe to be our reality, it fills us with fear and uneasiness. And so we penalize it, legislate it out of sight. We lock away the ‘mad’, so that they may not remind us of our own vulnerabilities.
And we try and classify, inadequately, with a psychiatric ‘diagnosis’, what I have now come to believe is essentially a fracturing of the spirit – a breakdown of that core self which defines who we are, outside of masks, duplicity and pretense; the bit in all of us that pines to live free of the demands placed on us by society; the part of us that shrinks when injustice is done to us.
Through the making of this film, I have come to believe that a very thin line separates sanity from insanity. That there is a tipping over point for each of us – in varying degrees, and that it is reached for different reasons.
Healing and recovery too, therefore, is a different process for each person.
The question is: do we, as a society, have the humility to acknowledge that our ability to comprehend the realities of a patient may be woefully deficient? That the narratives of a patient may elude our rational understanding, but for healing to take place, it is that which must be given primacy?
At its very core, this is the question that the film attempts to raise.
About the Director:
Aparna Sanyal is a filmmaker based in Delhi. Over the years, her work has taken her through a wide variety of subjects – including the Indian Polity & Economy, Sexuality, Women’s Issues, the Indian Youth, the Partition of India, Environment, Developmental issues and now, Mental Health. Aparna was one of the jurors for the UNICEF ABA CASBAA International Child Rights Films Award in 2009 and 2010. She is also a media entrepreneur and has co-founded Mixed Media Productions & Oasis Television, which have produced documentaries and television shows for both national and international broadcasters. You can get in touch with her for any questions regarding this film at email@example.com
A Drop of Sunshine (2010/11)
A multiple award winning documentary for PSBT (Public Service Broadcasting Trust), the most prestigious grant-giving body in India for documentary films, the film takes a contrarian and controversial stance on Schizophrenia, a mental condition that is believed to be incurable. The film won 5 awards at the IDPA (Indian Documentary Producers’ Association) Awards for Excellence, 2010 and a Rajat Kamal for Best Educational Film at the prestigious 59th National Film Awards, 2011.
Tedhi Lakeer – The Crooked Line (2002/3)
‘Tedhi Lakeer – The Crooked Line’, co-directed by Aparna Sanyal, was one of the first films to be made in India to protest the criminalization of homosexuality in the country. It captured the life stories of two ordinary, middle-class, Hindi speaking gay men – two men with not-so-straight lives – through which it made an emotional appeal against section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The film, made in 2002-3, went on to be screened in festivals in India and abroad.