FOR DR Mohan Agashe, Pune-based psychiatrist and noted Marathi actor, talking about depression was difficult. “Particularly as formal education focuses only on developing cognitive skills and leaves out sensory intelligence,” he said. So when the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched its campaign ‘Depression: Let’s Talk’, Agashe decided to create a space for this illness by producing a Marathi feature film ‘Kaasav’- Turtle.
“The movie does not try to provide a solution or tell the viewer how to deal with depression. Each case is different and it shows just one of them.” said Agashe. “Our education system prepares us in a way that we are always ready with an answer and analysis. Instead, when someone wants to talk we should simply listen,” he said, further stressing the importance of listening with patience.
Translated as ‘Turtle’, the movie is about a young, suicidal boy who is given shelter by a woman. “Depression is a serious problem and it was extremely challenging to visually depict the illness, said writer and director Sumitra Bhave, adding she, along with co-director, Sunil Sukthankar, had to delve into the psychology of the man for this.
Kaasav is a film about Manav (Alok Rajwade), who is lost, upset and lonely. He feels his life is purposeless. His attempts to end his life, gives him a chance to meet his alter ego Janaki, (Irawati Harshe) who is battling loneliness too. “Drawing the metaphor of a mother turtle which hatches her eggs and leaves before the young ones are born, Kaasav tells the viewer how patience and love can help a person with depression,” Agashe said. The sea represents the constant turmoil but shows how the turtle swims in it, Bhave said.
“There is at times so much violence among our youngsters. We need to understand how to completely accept the contradictions and help them to be non violent,” said Bhave.
A support system has been created in characters of Yadu, Dattabhau, Bablya who take the story forward and play a vital role in making us aware of how one should behave with reason.
“Depression is a serious illness, which is affecting South-Asian countries. The World Health Organisation has said that in the near future, depression will be the leading cause of mortality,” Agashe said. The focus this World Health Day (April 7) is on depression. The number of people living with depression is increasing with a rise of 18 per cent between 2005 and 2015 globally.
The WHO in its new global health estimates on depression for 2015 said over five crore Indians suffered from depression and more than three crore from anxiety disorders.
“I had to invest my life savings in the movie ‘Astu’ because I was acting in it. You cannot start an operation and leave the patient on the table without completing it,” Agashe said.
It was his first experience as a producer and it was great, he said, because people liked the movie. “So this time, I volunteered to co-produce Kaasav,” said
The film has been selected for the International Film Festival of Mumbai (MAMI Oct 2016), of Kolkata (Nov 2016), Trivandrum (Dec 2016), Bangalore (Jan 2017) and New York Indian Film Festival (April 2017).