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Interview Hindi

We misunderstand mental health: Pratish Nair on short film Lutf

On World Mental Health Day, the writer-director speaks about his short film that looks at overcoming the stigma of therapy and about mental health at home.

Sonal Pandya

The short film Lutf (2019), starring Mona Singh, Vinay Pathak, Luke Kenny, Usha Nadkarni and Sucharita Tyagi, depicts some important conversations that need to begin at home when it comes to addressing issues of mental health, depression, anxiety and therapy.

Written and directed by Pratish Nair, Lutf features Mona Singh as Meghna, a wife and mother overcoming her lifelong fear of ice-cream with the help of Dr Agarwal (Pathak), who helps her process her suppressed guilt. The short film was premiered on SonyLIV last year and is now available on YouTube.

Nair, founder and director of the School of Branding and Advertising associated with the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS), established his own production house, Kashi Films, in 2009.  The busy entrepreneur has also written and directed several stage plays and short movies.

Ahead of World Mental Health Day (10 October), Nair answered a few questions from Cinestaan.com about his pertinent short film, which stresses the need to start talking about mental health issues with our loved ones. Excerpts:

What was your inspiration to write and direct the short film Lutf?

My inspiration to write Lutf was a close friend suffering from depression and how the world declined to accept it.

Lutf brings up issues of anxiety, depression and mental well-being in the family sphere. Was that your aim in making the short film?

Positively and for some odd reason, I have noticed the happiest person or the one pretending to be the happiest in the room is hiding from others the sadness and loneliness they carry within themselves. I have seen primarily a lady in the house putting up a brave and happy face in a family for others and never taking a minute for herself.

How did you decide upon the short's unusual title?

We misunderstand mental health and also nearly 90% of the population mispronounces the word lutf as luft. The other reason is that lutf means enjoy; it’s time we start enjoying our lives and not see it as a selfish act.

How did you go about casting for Lutf? Did you write the roles thinking of anyone in particular?

Honestly, I never had the cast in my mind, but I would like to mention that when I met Mona Singh and [saw] the way she reacted to the script, I knew she could bring magic to the character. Vinay Pathak motivated me to tell this story and make it a short since I was discussing a different script with him at that time.

What was the filming experience like?

I have to admit that when you get the right people for the job, life is way easier. I had the honour of having Sunil Patel as the DoP [director of photography] and all other departments did their best. Also, I have to mention my editor Aasif Pathan, who helped immensely in telling this story.

Can you also tell us about your production house, Kashi Films? What kind of stories do you want to tell through it?

Kashi Films is a Malayalam film production company and we want to tell human stories in future. We also wish to produce Hindi shorts.

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