One of the most fascinating and enduring images of the curious short ‘Mind Mera Mind’ is the opening sequence of the film which re-imagines the much contested malaise of ‘Insomnia’ as a beefy lover in bed. We see the central figure of the film, Prateek in bed talking with a scantily-clad hunk - we assume to be his lover. But soon after hearing mentions of how Prateek spent his night talking to this lover figure, we learn that this seductive force is in fact none other than the insomnia Prateek suffers from.
The curious reimagining of this illness has interesting subtexts for the viewer to unpack. How do we as a society view insomnia and other mental illnesses, especially during these times of social media where aestheticization of pain comes easier than actually dealing with the same headlong? ‘Mind Mera Mind', with an invigorating title which not only lays a subjective claimancy to the mind of an individual but also is a veiled call for help, attempts at unraveling bits of the same.
Taking cue from the famous vines of erstwhile stand-up comedy AIB and the Pixar classic Inside Out, director and writer Harsh Agarwal deep dives into the psyche of a young, urban gay man suffering from depression, anxiety and self-doubt. The film shot in shades of soothing pastels and a largely navigable screenplay, unpacks the insecurities of Prateek while switching between stretches of humour and moments of curated poignancy.
Conversations with 'Self-doubt and Anxiety'
Despite the overarching tone of comedy that serves the dual purpose of entertainment and critique, it is the smaller moments that work the best. Watch out for the moment when, during a dinner table conversation with Self-doubt and Anxiety, Prateek thinks back on a lover-situation which was unrequited. His face registers a hint of doubt, a hue of pain and a passing sense of sadness. It is a moment that is bound to resonate with young queer folks of this generation.
But Agarwal deftly offsets the poignancy of the scene, with one of the most rip-roaring sequences of the film where Depression enters the scene in the form of a politician in a propaganda rally. The implications of the same in light of popular social media discourse surrounding clinical depression will keep one thinking long after the credits have rolled about the often loosely-informed din around mental health and how the same affects our daily functionings.
Silence works better?
But what doesn’t sit well - and eventually gets a distracting element in the narrative is the background music. Background scores often play a seminal role in comedies or satires - in many cases being pivotal in landing the punchline to a joke at hand. But the problem with ‘Mind Mera Mind' is that the music is overplayed to such an extent, to underline every single exchange, that after a point it simply gets jarring and borderline distracting.
In retrospect, the stretches in silence work far better as the camera from a point just carefully observes the protagonist and his thoughts by simply just allowing them to be. The character of Vijay as the colleague who reaches out is also not allowed to brew long enough. We get the intent behind his narrative positioning but in a story this focussed on an individual his insertion, to very specifically prove a point, seems particularly off track.
Your own story?
The film begins with a gun-to-head disclaimer about mental health and different processes of coping with the same. While this proclamation might not sit very well with many viewers, some may argue an illness needs to be clinically cured for what it is and not allowed to brew, ‘Mind Mera Mind’ is at its core a sensitive story about an urban gay man struggling with the regularity of his existence.
It is not a perfect film and despite hitches, Agarwal with his lead Raghav Sharma (whose face has a beautiful lived-in quality to it) makes a story that makes you laugh but at the same time fling back your head. This is a story you know of. Probably, this is your story.