For more years than I care to remember, I have heard so many people using this word on a daily basis, often many times over in the course of the day, bleating away how absolutely ‘depressed’ they were. Traffic taking a toll, the maid not turning up on time, an insufficient work wardrobe, too many guests popping in, unannounced on a Sunday (even if they cradled along a handi of biryani for a joint-lunch, the carry-over making its way into the following day’s tiffin, which would be relished, besides providing the relief of not having to sweat over the stove). Of course, here it has to be touched upon that this genre of whining was during the pre-Covid-19 era; and the truth is, that life as it was, as we have known it, seems to be of a bygone age. Nowadays the moaning that reaches you telephonically or via WhatsApp, Twitter or howsoever one Socialises on, are: ‘I am so depressed — no maid!’ ‘Have not been able to drive around for ages, has kicked in massive depression.’ ‘Watching all the Netflix series, I had wanted to before this wretched lockdown set in, is re-eally depressing’. ‘I did not experience post-partum depression after the birth of my twins, but being with them 24/7 so depressing.’ Should one not pause to think what depression actually is?! (The above are only expressions of discontent, dissatisfaction, disgruntlement!) Hippocrates called it Melancholia. It is a medical condition where one might just not want to drag oneself out of the bed to face the day, where one may just burst into tears for no rhyme or reason, where one would, perhaps, want to put an end to one’s life spending insomniac hours planning the best way to execute the plot. And then yes, actually double-bolt one’s room, strip the sheet that had many nights been moist with tears from the bed, make a noose of it, lassoing it over the fan to dangle to death from it. And depression is not a state, an ailment reserved for those of a certain economic background, with each day being a daily grind or for those being physically handicapped, as having only one arm or leg… People living a life marked by relentless gyming for whichever kind of custom-made body they aspire for, followed by a persistent series of hyper-personalised salon visits, the day ending on a pubbing or partying note, might be suffering from the same. In other words, breathing the rarified air of the River Rhine does not keep this malady at bay. And it’s necessarily not about a frothy, light-weight or to put it bluntly, superficial lifestyle but about some who might be working like a slave to live like a king, racing by to work in a gleaming Lamborghini Uris after having clocked in hours of work, logging in only a couple of hours of sleep, having to prep themselves for the day ahead. This category, may not be leading fizzy champagne and caviar lives… they might have thoughts to think, mountains to climb despite having scaled the summit, a wish-bucket which possibly involves helping the multitudes of hungry, homeless, penniless countrymen and also, like a child holding close to heart, the dream of fulfilling the prayers of a hundred mothers for them to never have a tear roll down their cheek. The latter as soft as the fluffy fall of a snowflake. This one from Sushant Singh Rajput’s wish-list, who lost his mother when he was just 16-years old… A few years back had seen the film, ‘M.S.Dhoni: The Untold Story’ and many a time had to blow into a tissue for backtracking the tears, in an attempt to battle the emotional quotient over the straight-thinking one. Two Sundays back, this 34-year old ‘Rising Star’ with no back-up, leave alone anyone to show him which door to knock to gain entry, a foothold in tinsel town, made it single-handedly on his own steam, and in little time. Soon he had the luxury cars he desired, acquired an apartment in upscale Bandra and was lauded for his talent; his remarkable ability to seamlessly become the character he was playing, yanking a slumping yawning drowsy viewer sit up — straight as an arrow — wide-eyed to feel his sizzling presence. Conventionally speaking, he could not be said to be one of the handsomest tools in the shed but… but nor is Shahrukh and a gaggle of younger actors. Sushant had a charming allure: his feet being on the ground as opposed to having his head in the clouds. One wonders, whatever would make this young man, with a dance in his sparkling eyes, decide to do away with himself?! He had a passion for astronomy — his terrace homed a special telescope for him to star-gaze attempting to unravel the mysteries of the universe. Sushant did not fall in the bracket of his co-stars; not to pass judgment, but the flippant, flighty manner they behave in ‘Koffee with Karan’ with their ditzy light-minded jokes, comments, and flighty, laying-it-on-thick body language indicative of, for the most, this `lot’ having not much between the ears. He was studying to be a mechanical engineer when, midway, he abandoned the course to try his luck in Hindi cinema. However, he did not cast aside his interest in physics, very much carrying it with him to Mumbai. (I say so, at the cost of having egg on my face, he had a mind that was curious, that was full of ideas, unlike most of the airheaded, vainglorious tinsel towners.) It was of little surprise that the painter he gravitated towards was Van Gogh… I believe he had a print of ‘Starry Night’, with its cypress tree denoting life after death. Van Gogh, had cut off his ear to shut out the cacophony, finally committing suicide. It is said Sushant was suffering from depression, was on anti-depressants… did the fact that the dynastic born ‘n’ bred Bollywood natives would not let go of the label, ‘Patna Boy’ contributing to furthering his fragile state of mind, to remain the Outsider, despite his Stardom?! No, he was not given an inch to be a ‘Bandra Boy’. The nauseating hypocritical twist to the story, as the curtains came down, was how the entire “philmi duniya” trooped out in swarms to pay gooey sweet tributes to Sushant Singh Rajput—the Resident Outsider.
Dr Renée Ranchan writes on socio-psychological issues, quasi-political matters and concerns that touch us all.