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

Posted on June 1, 2016 in Culture-Vulture, Mental Health

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?

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