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I Loved ‘Phobia’ But Here’s How The Audience Ruined It For Me

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By Shagun Gupta:

A still from PhobiaPhobia is a psychological thriller where the protagonist Mehak, played by Radhika Apte, suffers severe Agoraphobia that renders her fearful of even stepping outside the threshold of her house. As rightly said by the director of the movie, Pawan Kripalani, the film concerns itself not just with acts of violence but also with the consequences it leaves behind on a person’s mind; a trauma the victim struggles with for the rest of their life.

In my opinion, the film dealt with the subject in a decent manner and perhaps, it was also a true portrayal of what a person suffering from agoraphobia faces. But, before I could draw any conclusion from the movie itself, the audience surrounding me in the theatre gave me a major one to mull over. While several attempts are being made to explain the true nature of issues concerning mental health, are we even ready to listen? Are we bothered to see what’s being brought to light?

The protagonist’s fears were treated as a source of laughter by the audience, and I wouldn’t deny it, at times, it was comical to watch. But was that all that people could grasp throughout the movie? Did the woman’s fear, her struggle and her helplessness not cause shivers to run down their spine?

Reviews like ‘it’s boring’, ‘it isn’t worth the 250 bucks paid for the ticket’ and ‘what are they even trying to show?’ could be heard in whispers all around the theatre. A kissing scene between Radhika Apte and Satyadeep Mishra in the second half of the movie led a gentleman sitting in a row behind me to say aloud, “Ab nikal gaya sara darr?” (Is all the fear gone now?). And the worst part was that his insensitive and callous remark received quite a few scattering chuckles. Have we really grown that supercilious in our regard for others? Aren’t we left with even enough mercy to at least try to commiserate with others?

“Did you like the movie?” a fellow asked me and I replied with a nod paired with, “Why, you didn’t?” He then went on to ask me if I even understood the movie, and if I did, could I explain it to him. Happy to have met someone who was at least attempting to understand it, I launched into an explanation of what I perceived of the movie; the gist of it being ‘the movie was a representation of the distress and struggle of an agoraphobic woman who was a victim of violence in her past.’ However, I was in for a sweeping disappointment when I glanced up at him, hoping to have left even the tiniest bit of an impact. Well, if the movie couldn’t do that, how dare I think I could?

He frowned and told me he understood all that, mind you, with an attitude that screamed he couldn’t care less about it, and went on to ask, “But what was the point of it, after all? What even was the story of the movie?”

And I was caught speechless as I stared at him, dumbfounded by his tactlessness. Any further attempts I made to explain the purpose of the movie were met with hilarious but uncaring jokes and remarks like “All the directors do these days is pick an event or a celebrity or a disease and make a bloody film on it. But at least some of them do have a good story, unlike this movie Phobia.”

It amazes me, how we, the responsible and respectable members of this society, can so easily brush away any serious issue with just one crude assumption on our part and our unwillingness to change our mindset. What use are these attempts made at elucidating the several mental health issues when we aren’t even prepared to understand? Seriously, what is the point of it, after all?

You must be to comment.
  1. Ajay

    I faced a similar situation while after watching Tamasha.
    It true, audience isn’t an intellectual one. People watch movies
    just for the sake of watching them. They are not interested in what director
    wants to convey…
    Films like Margarita with a straw, Masan, Waiting remains unnoticed…
    And we complain that Bollywood is full of crap

  2. Ajay

    I faced a similar situation after watching Tamasha.
    Its true, audience isn’t an intellectual one. People watch movies
    just for the sake of watching them. They are not interested in what director
    wants to convey…
    Films like Margarita with a straw, Masan, Waiting remains unnoticed…
    And we complain that Bollywood is full of crap

  3. Tarun

    I disagree with the author (Shagun). I think its quite clear what Indian audience demands from a movie. Criticizing Indian audience for the sheer sake that they couldn’t understand a movie wouldn’t be fair accusations against their mindset. You can’t expect lay audience (being yourself a Mass Comm student) to understand some confusing/intellectual/intricately directed movie. Most of the horror movies are tricky to understand. It is the art of the director how to keep the thrill of horror alive throughout the movie. Most good horror movies that I have watched are full of twisted curly suspense spilled over different points in the movie. I can only sympathize with such audiences that due to poor intellectual grasp they are not able to get hold of some of the masterpieces of art. Then it becomes the duty of schools and universities to teach pupils how to watch a good movie. Audience at an Indian movie theater is not an expert in Mass. Comm.

  4. Sreedhartn

    53845 banned
    53837 banned
    53842 banned
    53847 banned
    53850 banned

    Unlike international audience, I must say that Indian audience want every film they watch to “entertain” them, to put it in more bluntly, “Indian Audience do not like surprises”. I know i am categorizing Indian Audience, but yes the majority of them walk into a theater expecting a regular song and dance routine, with an item song in a tow and a story which is actually spoon-fed to them. So when movies like “phobia” grace the screen, they are rejected out-right, because they make the audience feel “agorophobic”. I mean they would find a woman traumatized by a mental illness and movie chronicling it funny and yes they do not want to understand what the director wanted to convey through the film. I went to this movie along with a friend and there were a total of 12 people (yep counted them), my friend choose to walk out in the intermission as she found it boring (i actually thought a woman would understand what the protoganist was going through) and decided to go shopping instead. I watched it through the end and I was kind of upset that everyone else was whispering what a “time waste movie it was” and one girl said “that radhika apte, she does not know acting, same expression, thats why she is not getting films”.

    But then I did not care about what those 12 people thought, I liked the movie and i think there should be more of these coming in…

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