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From Math To Madness and Back: ‘A Beautiful Mind’ #Movie Review

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By Shruti Kesavan:

Have you ever wanted to truly get motivated and jump off your seat, shake off all the sorrow gently bestowed upon you and start afresh? Ever wondered how great men become what they are? If yes, then this movie is hand crafted for you. Here comes a humble true story of the not so well known John Nash who laid the very basis of governing dynamics. A truly inspirational 130 minutes of “A Beautiful Mind” takes you into the surreal journey of joy, recognition, achievement, betrayal and most importantly the value of love and family surpassing the rest.


Directed by Ron Howard, this movie is sure to pull you in, in all the raw emotions beautifully put across by Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, and Christopher Plummer. The movie has drawn its motivation from the book named ‘The Essential John Nash‘ written by Sylvia Nasar which was also nominated for the 1998 Pulitzer Prize. This movie was released in 2001 but I would still encourage you to see it simply because unlike other movies which revolve around love, money and other materialistic aspects of life, this movie has something else to offer. Firstly it would be one of the very few movies which do not portray someone with a mental disorder as someone who is drooling or wetting their pants but the approach used in this film suggests that they are nothing different from us. We are simply just not alike. Secondly its doesn’t portray a sad picture of how he is forced to die or how he just jumps off a cliff, instead he wins the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science for the work he did in Princeton in the late 1940’s.

The movie sheds light on the slightly eccentric young man, who is clumsy, unfriendly and a genius to say the least. ‘A Beautiful Mind’, in terms of the screenplay catches the keen sense of emotion we would want to relate to Mr. Nash as an audience, his deep desire to be recognised and his in-depth need to belong in a land he is far from being aware of. He also brings into the limelight his famous “window art” and rather new techniques of flirting. The movie is essentially divided into four stages namely the physical, the metaphysical the delusional and back. Each stage has something the viewer can relate to and something to take back home and remember for a long time to come. As you seem to ease into the pace of the movie you seem to realize the fact that he, not finding his “original idea” starts showing slight signs of his temper, his shattering ego and silent calls for help as it were the very beginning of his mental illness.

You seem to believe in his innocent charm that “all is well” as he marries the love of his life after she woos him after solving a difficult math equation (which he claims to be wrong). The climax comes when he starts working on a secret mission about which he needs to maintain high confidentiality. Slowly you see him decoding hidden information from the Russians who cleverly send their messages in the form of texts in newspapers and magazines. He works under the man who goes by the name William Parcher and is instructed to drop off his findings at a secret location (Wheller’s). This continues and you slowly begin to believe these cleverly put across ideas, which are only the artefacts of his “beautiful mind”. Then it is revealed that he is a victim of paranoid schizophrenia. Everything that you believed in the past hour seems to unfold as a lie and a cheap game played by his mind. His closest of friends Charles Herman and even William Parcher seem to be just characters of his delusional parallel world.

The actual story starts thereafter when you see the delicately woven love and affection between him and his wife Alicia where she’s shown standing by him literally through thick and thin. From taking him for his hospital sessions to working single handed for his family, you see her standing there like a rock for him, only redefining the lost meaning of true love which we have so conveniently forgotten. This is one such story which would restore your lost hopes in finding the silver lining in times of trouble. You also begin to love the character Martin (the same person who was his arch enemy at Princeton) who is also shown to be a true friend, someone who doesn’t seem to leave him in times of trouble.

He goes on to win the Nobel Prize and then delivers the best ‘thank you’ speech which is sure to bring tears in your eyes as there is a hidden part in all of us who enjoy the reunion of true love and triumph of the human spirit. From someone who had lost everything, from his job to the basic respect of a human being to overcoming his troubles and making his weakness his strength and setting an example of how to stand up every time life pushes you down.

For the first time you would see a positive response in terms of attitude towards the illness which would not only bring about awareness in people but also make them realize it is normal people like you and me who are affected by such disabilities.

On the downside, many facts were misinterpreted and some important milestones in his life were also ignored to make it more of a film where you would emotionally connect with Nash rather than critically analyse his situation. For instance, the movie avoids the fact that Nash was previously married to Elenor Stiers and had a child named John with her as well. He later went on to divorce her and leave his wife and child in poverty with no place to go. The timelines of when he actually started developing his illness also don’t seem to coincide. The reality seems to have been brushed away as it would be too much to comprehend in a two hour movie and hence only the rosy part is left behind for the audience to gather from.

All in all, if we would wish to ignore the facts and just want to admire art at its best and witness the triumph of the human spirit this would be worth your time and money, as this movie guarantees not to disappoint you.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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