Deepika Padukone urges elite Mumbaikars to join her fight against depression
Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, who has admitted to have been battling depression, called on Mumbai influencers to discuss a way out of the condition over tea at a Lower Parel five-star
It is elderly people, living alone, who usually call police help lines complaining of depression, shared Chief Minister Davendra Fadnavis at actress Deepika Padukone’s Saturday high tea at a Lower Parel five-star to discuss the challenge on the occasion of World Mental Health Day yesterday.
Actress Deepika Padukone shares a laugh with Ronnie and Zarina Screwvala at a high tea that her foundation, Live Love Laugh, organised to discuss ways to fight depression. Pics/Sharad Vegda
The event was attended by influential celebrities like film producer Ronnie Screwvala, BJP spokesperson Shaina NC, Nita Ambani, filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra, writer Shobhaa De, Parmeshwar and Adi Godrej and film producer Kiran Rao. This year, in March, when actress Deepika Padukone openly admitted to battling depression, the whole nation took note.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Nita Ambani and Writer Shobhaa De
She went on television and gave interviews about how she had felt “directionless” and how she would “cry at the drop of a hat”. Many of us realised we felt the same. In fact, a World Health Organisation this year said that India was the most depressed country in the world, with 36 per cent of us depressed.
Padukone, urged by her mother Ujjala, went through counselling and medication. But it was when a friend in Mumbai committed suicide, that she decided to take it to a different level. On March 21, Padukone launched her foundation -- Live Love Laugh -- which aims to help people deal with depression.
It was keeping this in mind that the actress roped in her friends and acquaintances for a high tea, where people shared their experiences and talked openly about the steps the foundation could take in future. “When Deepika called me, she said she was inviting a very focused group of influencers who could give valuable suggestions,” said Shobhaa De.
“One of the best suggestions I heard came from Ronnie Screwvala, who said that maybe the foundation could think of a less intimidating word than ‘depression’ which was scary. Off stage, most people were wondering how they would contribute.” De shared that Nandan and Rohini Nilakani’s daughter, Jahnavi, donated Rs 1 crore to the foundation.
Padukone was her candid self at the event. She said, “I was shooting for 'Piku' when I realised what I was going through. I spoke to my parents and they supported me. When I decided to talk about my depression, how it would affect my future or career was never my concern.”
Her parents Prakash and Ujjala Padukone said they had seen the signs of depression. “She’s normally a happy person but I could sense something wrong. I told her she needed professional help. I didn’t want anyone to know at the time. I felt that the media would misrepresent it,” said her mother.
Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who is the fashion world’s darling and a Bollywood favourite, also shocked audiences with his admission. “Even at 16, I knew what it was. I was an excellent student. People believed that I had no reason to be depressed. In fact, doctors would tell my parents that it was a way of seeking attention and that all I needed was a tight slap,” he said.
“At 16, I tried to kill myself for the first time, and twice since. Deepika got out of it soon. I battled with it for seven years.” Padukone’s foundation is run by the same psychologists who helped her come out of depression — Dr Shyam Bhatt and Dr Anna Chandy.
She discussed her idea with CM Devendra Fadnavis, and he told her to also take it up at the rural level. “After a survey in Maharashtra, we’ve realised that depression is the reason for farmer suicides as well. We have now placed psychiatrists in our health centres to counsel farmers,” he said.