When 23-year-old Harshit Bansal (based out of Delhi) was going through a bad phase of mental health, he didn’t know that his love for films will help him out of it. Talking to The Hindu, Bansal was quoted as – “I’ve always had a very personal relationship with films. But two years ago, when my mental health was at its worst, watching my favourite film or TV show used to make me feel better. I think films have the potential to evoke emotions and induce empathy like no other medium.”
In a world that seems to be overflowing with a desire to fault cinema and TV for everything that’s wrong with the world, this is a refreshing perspective. “However, it’s important to remember that films are only a temporary medium of escape and professional help should be sought when necessary” – Bansal quickly adds.
View this post on Instagram
“To John Keating, There are some movies which change your life. There are some characters which feel like a long-lost friend. There are words on screen that stick with you like a nursery rhyme. You and your words were one of them. I found you at a time I didn’t even know I needed to hear the things you said. I found you, in the dim-lit classroom where the literary society of our college was screening Dead Poets Society. I found you, at a time when like Todd Anderson, I was afraid to share my words with people. I found you, when similar to Neil Perry, I was caught in a dilemma of whether to follow my father’s dreams or my own. I found you and you changed my life. You made me believe that indeed words and ideas have the power to change the world. You reignited the urge to seize moments and write our own verses. You gave birth to the hope that poetry would never die, but find its way out and inspire. Since then, I’ve turned to the movie and to you, in countless instances when I’ve needed a nudge. I’ve turned to your words when I lost confidence that my own will reach somewhere. I’ve said aloud “O Captain, My Captain!” and let your encouraging smile steer me towards more and more poetry. I cannot stand on a chair, but consider this write-up my standing ovation to you. Thank you, Captain. Continue to inspire many more individuals and words. Yours, A student”. . – @shruti_writes . #DearMovies #HumansOfCinema . Remembering Robin Williams on his 68th birthday today. What’s your favorite performance by the legendary actor? . #RobinWilliams #ocaptainmycaptain
What is Mental Health Talks x Humans of Cinema?
Humans of Cinema started out as yet another Instagram account that sees Bansal talk about the ‘true spirit’ of movie-viewing, and then he took things to the next level by tying up with Mental Health Talks for a project that invites enthusiasts to speak about films that helped them through the tough times. It’s seen an overwhelming response, as is visible from the sheer number of posts as a part of the initiative.
The posts see testimonials for everyone from Robin Williams’s John Keating from Dead Poet’s Society to Alia Bhatt’s Ananya from Two States. Bansal talks about ‘Cinema therapy’ as a subject, used by many therapists during psychotherapy.
View this post on Instagram
“Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na was so real and portrayed human relationships in layers. Meghna, who has a wrecked home and bitter childhood learns that changing the way to see something has always helped her with getting away with loneliness. Obviously things get better when we make friends and get along with someone but you never really leave the real you. Ever since childhood my parents had a difficult marriage, I was the glue to this relationship and somehow managed at the edge of not falling apart. I lost the belief of a happy family or something called love. When you lack something, you try to fill the void with someone who you think is capable to help. And you burden them with your unmet love and patience, and since we have been ourselves for a long time, we tend to remain the same. We look at the world, its relationships in our own learned way, but not everyone is capable of that. Not everyone is willing to go that deep and we must not expect that either. Meghna’s character arc in this movie shows how her relationship with her parents helped her find a partner who was quite an opposite of what they were. But living in the bubble of her life suffocated Jai. Living inside the bubble doesn’t mean we don’t care about others or don’t know what’s right. That’s what Meghna does, she does the right thing by letting Jai go. People must have pitied her and felt that she was hurt, but actually letting go is the primary healing. It made me realise that it’s okay to be you and it’s okay when others don’t get you. It’s a part and parcel of life.” . . . Manisha ( @manimallick ) shares her #CinemaStory on Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na, 2008. . . @tyreabbaswala #manjariphadnis @imrankhan @geneliad #jaanetuyajaanena
An online commune for cinephiles
Bansal has plans to widen the account’s scope to non-Hindi and International films, which will certainly help the page to become a place for discovering obscure films. Co-owner of the merchandise, Frankly Wearing, Bansal also likes the job of curating the page since it allows him to connect with other cinephiles, who might have an interesting observation about a film or its character. Bansal recounts reading a story on Jaana Tu Ya Jaane Na‘s Meghna (played by Manjiri Phadnis), a character he thought hadn’t been done justice to, that pointed out that letting Jai (played by Imran Khan) go was an act of healing for her.
“A Tamasha fan got in touch with me recently to share how the film helped him muster the courage to leave his job and pursue his passion of writing. I couldn’t not engage in a conversation, considering how the film was a driving force for me to start the page as well. I’ll probably never meet him, but knowing that both of us share such a special relationship with the same film was kind of a comforting thought in itself,” says Bansal.