As multiple Bollywood films are celebrating how weaknesses can be turned into strengths, leading actor Deepika Padukone says it is important for celebrities to use their place of influence and power to bring about change in society. “I think it is extremely important for those who are in positions of influence or power to bring about social change. It is extremely important for them to speak up about whatever issue it might be,”said Deepika.
Of late, film actors and filmmakers are attempting storylines which have a strong underlying message that can bring change in society. The latest example is Rani Mukerji’s Hichki, which talks about how a woman with Tourette Syndrome, a neuropsychiatric disorder, makes it her strength and becomes a teacher.
Deepika, one of Bollywood’s top-earning actors, believes people can see if you do not have genuine connect or if it is not authentic. “For many years, people always said, ‘You know you are successful, you should do work in social sectors as well or associate with an NGO’. There were so many options (for me), but I didn’t feel like I was being honest to them. It didn’t come naturally to me until I came across mental health, also because of my personal experience,” said the actor, who had earlier opened up about her battle with depression.
She feels speaking up for a cause has to be an “organic” process. “I don’t think there is any fixed time as to when one should do it. I think you should do it when you feel it is right.”
Deepika was here along with her mother and younger sister to launch a report on Public Perception Towards Mental Health in India by her foundation The Live Love Laugh Foundation (TLLLF), which aims to reduce the stigma around mental health.
The report’s findings indicate that a majority of people feel that mental illness is still considered a severe disorder like schizophrenia and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
But are celebrities not more prone to depression and stress, especially when they are constantly under the scanner, more so with the emergence of social media? “No. I think I have understood the correlation between consumption of social media and when it helps. I always believed that whatever you consume, you consume in moderation.
“If you consume too much, it could have various sorts of impact, not just on your mental health but physical health too. I know people who are up at social media in the wee hours and probably letting it eat up their sleep time.
“As long as anything that you consume, whether it is social media or otherwise, is done in moderation, and you are aware about your social health, I think you are on the right path,” said the 32-year-old. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters to her is “peace of mind”. Deepika said she wants to see India as the happiest nation in the world.
“My vision for the Foundation is that we become the happiest country in the world. I see Bhutan having their happiness minister, and even some of the Scandinavian countries have the highest rate of mental happiness and I want India to be there, sooner or later,” she signed off.
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