Some characters can leave lasting impressions. And Kangana Ranaut seems to pull off such portrayals with talent and instinctive ease. From Haryanvi Kusum Sangwan to Punjabi Rani and now Gujarati Simran, she gets into the skin of the character seamlessly. In her next, as the recently released trailer of Simran shows, she plays a kleptomaniac. While there have been several movies on mental disabilities and disorders, this seems to be the first where the protagonist is suffering from this impulse control disorder. And health experts believe that if the movie deals with the disorder properly, it could help many who are living in denial.
Samir Parikh, director, mental health and behavioural sciences, explains that kleptomania is not at all uncommon and believes that movies can definitely help create awareness about mental health issues but the portrayal of the disorder and nature of the film matter a lot.
“The patients range from kids to the elderly. Kleptomania is a condition of picking up something you don’t need or want. You pick it up because you can’t control the urge. It can be as innocuous as picking up a pencil or a crime like stealing from a jewellery shop. The item is not important, it’s the impulse that counts.”
He agrees that most mental disorders have stigmas attached to them. “People don’t accept that they are in depression, let alone kleptomania. In case of kleptomania, the shopkeeper or the schoolteacher won’t think that the person stealing something is actually suffering from a disorder. The patient may or may not be aware of what he is suffering from. Only the act of picking things comforts him. Some seek help and some don’t. One can hope that entertainment media through this film can reduce the stigmatisation by spreading awareness. It can persuade people to seek help, as help is easily available.”
Agrees Ashish Kumar Mittal, consultant psychiatrist, “Usually society has many reservations regarding health issues. What happens in most cases is people come complaining about other problems like anxiety and depression but we understand through diagnosis that they are actually suffering from kleptomania. Patients typically get in a denial mode. Very few people approach us knowing that they need help regarding their kleptomania.”
He adds, “If the movie shows Kangana taking help and getting cured, it will do wonders. In any case, even a dramatised version will make kleptomania a talking point and patients will be able to give references. I remember after Taare Zameen Par, a lot of parents could identify similar problems and said that their kid has the same problem as shown in the film.”
Manish Jain, consultant, psychiatry, shares that kleptomaniacs have no wrong intentions and often the stolen items are stashed away, never to be used, or donated or even secretly returned to the place from where they were stolen.
“Many people are not aware of the gravity of this disorder and this movie might give them an insight into the problem,” he says.