Movies

This Instagram account has teamed up with Mental Health Talks India to highlight positive change in film narratives

If one came across a page called Humans Of Cinema, it’d be fair to assume that there’ll be a flurry of posts about film industry folks. But 23-year-old Harshit Bansal from Delhi took the idea beyond the predictable and caught netizens’ attention in early May when he announced ‘Mental Health Talks x Humans Of Cinema;’ a project inviting film enthusiasts to talk about the moments in cinema which helped them through tough times.

The series aims at highlighting the positive power of cinema. The link-up with Mental Health Talks India was serendipitous for Harshit. “The idea of correlating cinema with mental health came from a very personal space for me,” he explains, “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 the world, which is why it becomes such a powerful tool of self-help as well as rehabilitation for people. Eventually, however, it’s important to remember that films are only a temporary medium of escape and professional help should be sought when necessary.”

The future of Humans
  • Harshit considers the ‘Humans Of..’ concept to be one of the most important things to have happened to society in the last decade. “The Humans Of pages from around the world have successfully acted as flag-bearers of positivity and a feeling of unity in an otherwise negative social media and an increasingly polarising society. I think this shows that stories and experiences unite people and make them forget about their differences, and I hope these pages are able to keep doing that in the future as well. After all, even when everything is lost, it’s the stories which survive.”

Mental health narratives are prevalent in the series, through a sweet letter to Robin Williams’ character John Keating in 1989’s Dead Poets Society or Alia Bhatt’s Ananya in 2014’s 2 States. It’s worth noting many film characters tap into the mental health space in one way or another. “A lack of professional/technical understanding of mental health is something that bothers me sometimes,” Harshit elaborates, “Cinema Therapy is a subject of study in itself, and is used by many therapists as a part of psychotherapy.”

While his profession doesn’t lie in the film realm (he co-owns artist merchandiser Frankly Wearing), he considers Humans Of Cinema to be more than just a passion project. He recalls a post about Manjari Phadnis’ Meghna from 2008’s Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa. “I really didn’t make much of Meghna and always felt like her character hadn’t been done justice in an otherwise well-written film. But in this specific story, the cinephile used instances from her own life to point out that letting Jai go was in itself an act of healing for her and was the most appropriate resolution to the character.”

A tribute to Robin Williams

A tribute to Robin Williams  

But what of global cinema? Harshit says he’d love to up the diversity of the film discourses across Humans Of Cinema, adding, “I also plan to share stories from non-Hindi Indian films as well as foreign language films in the immediate future. As OTT platforms are slowly becoming important parts of our lives and people are keen on exploring meaningful and impactful cinema from around the world, I think it's important for me as someone with this kind of reach to encourage that pattern.”

This Instagram account has teamed up with Mental Health Talks India to highlight positive change in film narratives

One of the most rewarding aspects of curating a page such as this is the conversations Harshit has been able to have with other cinephiles. “A Tamasha fan got in touch with me recently to share how the film helped him musterthe courage to leave his job and pursue his passion of writing,” he recalls, “I couldn’t not engage in a conversation with him after that, especially 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 — sometimes, that’s all that you need.”


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Printable version | Oct 15, 2021 6:59:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/humans-of-cinema-instagram/article28730704.ece

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