Intended for healthcare professionals

Reviews Film

Indian “psycho”

BMJ 2004; 329 doi: (Published 11 November 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:1191
  1. Dinesh Bhugra, professor of mental health and cultural diversity (
  1. Institute of Psychiatry, London

    Can “Bollywood” films teach us anything about mental health?

    Films—be they Hollywood, independent, French, or Hindi—reflect the cultures in which they are embedded. The pleasure that commercial films offer and the desire they create make them a vital part of popular culture and an important site of cultural interpretation. There is no doubt that some films are less realistic in their interpretation and projection of everyday reality than others. In Hindi cinema the costumes, the sets, and the lifestyles shown are often wishful rather than realistic. The narratives of films are essential in understanding their impact on culture and, in return, the impact of culture on films. The advantages of studying films for understanding cultures are manifold, even if the portrayals are stereotyped. Films can be used for teaching psychopathology as well as cultural understanding to students, trainees, and clinicians. (See my articles in the Psychiatric Bulletin, “Using film and literature for cultural competence training” (2003;27: 427-8) and “Teaching psychiatry through cinema” (2003;27: 429-30).)

    The world's largest film producer, the Hindi film industry based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay—hence “Bollywood”), dates back to the early 20th century. Historically, the patterns of film making followed the trail set by Hollywood: initially by developing and sustaining studio …

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