mental health Society

Onkar Diwadkar on his short film ‘Still Alive’

A still from the short film ‘Still Alive’   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Writer-director Onkar Diwadkar puts the spotlight on mental health in his Marathi short film Still Alive (with English subtitles). Recently screened at the 51st International Film Festival Of India (IFFI) and the 26th Kolkata International Film Festival, the 27-minute film delves into the psychological state of a woman with depression and suicidal thoughts. The protagonist Meera (played by Pooja Raibagi), in an emotional state of mind, stands on the beach and decides to take her life.

Onkar Diwadkar

Onkar Diwadkar   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Unable to bear the breakup with her boyfriend, she is frustrated and tries to call him, then her mother and even dials Manas Foundation, a suicide prevention helpline. Although Meera is listening, she is not receptive. She walks into the water but a high tide throws her back to the shore. Meera realises how precious life is and starts humming the lines Que sera sera.

Onkar, also the producer says, “The subject is that of heartbreak, but it is a universal case and applies to everyone who has experienced hurt and pain. I want to create a window for the audience to be a witness for a few moments, to a person’s life when he/she feels so helpless to end life but also comes out of it. I want to show the transformation so that the impact is positive. Whenever someone is depressed, they will be reminded of the film and know that they can come out of it,” he says.

Still Alive does not judge or take sides. “We assume helplines set right things instantly but if the caller is not receptive, even helplines cannot help,” he adds.

The 27-minute-long-single take film was shot over three days at Vengurla beach on the Konkan coast in October 2019 in natural light and sync sound. The film is ‘technically right’, thanks to Dr Anand Nadkarni of Institute of Psychological Health, Pune and Sulabha Subramaniam of Maitra helpline.

Without disclosing any personal data, the duo had long discussions with the filmmaker to help him understand the subject. While Onkar has written dialogues for the film, Sulabha has written the film’s additional dialogues.

Still Alive is also inspired by Onkar’s personal life. Having had depression for five years, he wanted to depict how one gets stuck in this vicious cycle. “When thoughts attack our minds, we believe them to be true. We can see an external attack but what about the internal ones? Many do not accept that they have mental health issues. We can give medicines to cure a physical injury but when you neither see nor accept the inner trauma, the healing becomes tough,” says the 25-year-old filmmaker whose first short was Mrugajal – In the Land of Mirage (2019).

After watching Still Alive, a few people told the director of the similar experiences, like Meera, during the lockdown when they were isolated from friends and family. Says Onkar, “We need to talk about mental health issues. When we do not open up, there is no awareness and process to tackle it.”

The trailer link is on Youtube ( https://youtu.be/gReyFEhO0fA) but and the movie’s private screening will be updated on its social media pages.

If you are in crisis call the 24x7 helpline at Aasra 9820466726

Those in distress or having suicidal tendencies could seek help and counselling by calling any of the following numbers:

Telangana Roshni - 040-6620 2000

Andhra Pradesh

1Life - 78930-78930; 100

GGH-Kakinada - 98499-03870.

Karnataka Arogya Sahayavani - 104

Tamil Nadu

Sneha - 044- 24640050

State’s health helpline - 104

Kerala DISHA - 1056, 0471-2552056

Delhi Sanjivini, Society for Mental Health - 011-4076 9002, Monday-Saturday, 10 am -7.30 pm

Mumbai

BMC Mental Health Helpline: 022-24131212 (24x7)

Vandrevala Foundation: 18602662345/18002333330 (24x7)

I Call - 022-25521111 (Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.)

The Samaritans Mumbai: 8422984528/842984529/8422984530 ( 5 p.m. -8 p.m., all days)

Bengaluru Sahai - 080-25497777, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Kochi Maitri — 0484-2540530, Chaithram — 0484-2361160)

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 3:52:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/onkar-diwadkars-short-film-still-alive-stirs-conversation-around-mental-health/article33684828.ece

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