The 2016 Alia Bhatt and Shah Rukh Khan starrer, Dear Zindagi, is a sensitive portrayal of a young girl’s journey through therapy.
For most Indians, therapy is only something one resorts to when one has serious mental health issues that affect one’s daily functioning. We rarely think of therapy as a tool to help us deal with issues we face in interpersonal relationships.
Dear Zindagi helps dispel some of the erroneous beliefs that plague therapeutic practice, such as the belief that therapy is only for crazy people.
Alia Bhatt’s realistic portrayal of Kaira’s journey through therapy, assisted by her therapist, Dr. Jehangir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan in a surprisingly understated performance), helps us understand how the process can heal attachment and commitment issues in relationships, and how they originate from deep, unhealed childhood wounds.
It shows how talking through and grieving our feelings of abandonment can heal and free us from our pain, so we can form healthy new attachments in adulthood.
It was also heartwarming to see the non-judgmental way in which the writer dealt with the shame Kaira felt from being unable to commit to a single man.
Her therapist’s metaphor, of trying out different chairs to find the most comfortable one, is a shout-out to all women who have felt slut-shamed by society for having more than one lover.
For most Indians, who have a very limited emotional vocabulary and understanding of the journey of therapy, the movie is an eye-opener.
It improves our understanding of how therapy works, and highlights the benefits it can bring in terms of improved interpersonal relationships.
In the movie, Kaira’s relationship with her parents improves dramatically once she learns to see them as the fallible, imperfect human beings they are. It’s a journey many of us can relate to.
Towards the end of the movie, Dr Khan explains to Kaira how different relationships serve different purposes in our lives, and why we shouldn’t expect a romantic partner to shoulder the burden of single-handedly fulfilling all these roles.
It shows us how a good therapist can create a paradigm change in the way we look at relationships and life itself.
Will Dear Zindagi inspire more Indians to opt for therapy to heal their deepest childhood wounds in the search for greater happiness, peace of mind and freedom from their past conditioning? We certainly hope it inspires you.
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