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Film review: ‘Brothers’ is a melodramatic remake that is high on style, low on subtlety

This remake of the Hollywood film 'Warrior' fails to pack a punch.

The 2011 Hollywood film Warrior, directed by Gavin O’Connor, won critical acclaim for its realistic acting and moving plot. In the official Hindi remake of the sports drama, Karan Malhotra (Agneepath) casts Akshay Kumar and Sidharth Malhotra as feuding siblings and Jackie Shroff as their alcoholic father.

Kumar plays David, a teacher trying to support his family, pay off loans and find funds for his ailing daughter’s medical treatment. Sidharth Malhotra is Monty, his younger half-brother who lives with their aging and troubled father, an infamous retired street fighter. David bears a deep anger towards both his father and brother. Monty is following in his father’s footsteps – partial to the bottle and a rising star in the underground cage-fighting scene.

Things come to a head when the brothers enter a high-profile mixed martial arts contest, unimaginatively called R2F – Right to Fight. The first half of the film sets up the family drama, establishing why the family fell apart. The highlight of the pre-interval section is a rigorous (a very well shot, executed and edited) training schedule.

Not surprisingly, this leads up to the big contest between Monty and David ‒ brother vs. brother ‒ as the father who failed them both looks on helplessly. The climax is textbook Bollywood, which is what makes Warrior a smart choice for a remake. Yet as Akshay Kumar puts Sidharth Malhotra in a do-or-die choke, you find yourself stifling a smirk rather than cheering the inevitable sibling reconciliation.

Kumar is perfectly cast in a part that fits his age and capitalizes on his strengths as an action star. Shefali Shah plays Maria and Jacqueline Fernandez is Jenny, supportive wives with bleeding hearts of gold who weep at will. Sidharth Malhotra barely has any lines nor the air of confrontation around him that might make you feel for his character. Barring a hammy flashback scene, Jackie Shroff is in fine form getting the accent, body language and pathos just right. The rest of the cast stand incongruously with the controlled pitch of the lead cast: David’s trainer (Ashutosh Rana, the outlandish event promoter (Kiran Kumar) and the two commentators (Raj Zutshi, Kavi Shastri) who sound like they should be in a stand-up comedy show.

The question that often springs to mind with remakes is why the producers choose to take a solid story and retard it with Bollywood tropes? In Karan Malhotra’s case, in a script adapted by Ekta Pathak, songs puncture the narrative and in-your-face melodrama dilutes the drama. This story of a fractured family is high on manipulative cinematic tools but fails to make an emotional connection. What stays with you are the no-holds-barred action sequences and the hummable theme tune.



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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.