Disability and Mental Health: Reflections on the Contemporary Hindi Cinema

© Media Watch 12 (1) 7-19, 2021
ISSN 0976-0911 | E-ISSN 2249-8818
DOI: 10.15655/mw/2021/v12i1/205454

Disability and Mental Health: 

Reflections on the Contemporary Hindi Cinema


Shivanee & Manoj Kumar Yadav

National Institute of Technology (Hamirpur), India



Contemporary research in disability studies has conventionally focused on mental health, chronic diseases, and illness as generic concerns in literature, arts, and visual culture. The new advancements in the area have also incorporated the social, cultural, political, and economic dimensions instead of dealing with the corporal aspect of the disability only. In the Indian socio-cultural fabric, the boundary of “normal,” “normalcy,” or “abled-body” is often drawn against the disabled people, and they are subjected to a normative discourse of pity, compassion, and tragedy. This article traces the hegemony of normalcy and medicalization of disability in Hindi films. It explores the transformation over some time in the representation of disability and mental illness on screen. It investigates various dimensions of disability, including physical disability, learning disability, chronic illness, and biopsychosocial disability, within the broader framework of health humanities. The process also emphasizes the factors that influence disabled or mentally ill people on the screen and their reception by the Indian audiences. 


Keywords: Disability, mental health, chronic illness, representation, Hindi cinema



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Shivanee is a PhD scholar in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh, India. Her areas of interest are disability studies, medical humanities, and film studies.

Manoj Kumar Yadav teaches in the Department of Management and Humanities at National Institute of Technology, Hamirpur, India. Before joining NIT, he worked as an Assistant Professor at Ramjas College, Delhi University. He has also been a recipient of TRSS fellowship granted by University College London. His research interest includes translation and language politics, inter-semiotic translation, and postcolonial translation.


Correspondence to: Manoj Kumar Yadav, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Institute Technology, Hamirpur, Himachal Pradesh-177 005, India