Has anyone noticed that suicide is a very common theme in Indian cinema? Especially in the past years, there seem to be a large number of films where one or more of the characters commit suicide or attempt to. Considering the frequency in which this concept is used, I’m not sure if Indian films discourage suicide or actually encourage it.
So why do characters commit suicide in Indian films?
Due to Parental Pressure or Failure in School
The first film that comes to mind in this category is 3 Idiots. In the film, a student hangs himself for not completing a project on time and one of the main characters jumps out of the window of the building due to being rusticated from school. Another film, Chal Chalein shows a middle schooler jumping off of the roof of the school because his father doesn’t allow him to choose the section he wants.
In Raanjhanaa, several characters slit their wrists to either prove their love or because they couldn’t attain their love. The Telugu film Prema Katha Chitram appears to criticize youngsters’ reasons for committing suicide but the heroine ends up slitting her wrist at the end of the film because she couldn’t attain her love. In the Malayalam film Geethanjali, the actress tries to kill herself and the boy she loves because he no longer wants her.
Due to Mental Illness
In Karthik Calling Kartik, Karthik, who suffers from schizophrenia, plans to take pills and commit suicide because of depression and disappointment with his life. In 404: Error Not Found, a previous student has hanged himself due to ragging and the main actor hangs himself because of mental illness and disappointment. In the Tamil film 3, instead of seeking help for his schizophrenia, the main actor slits his throat to end his suffering and protect his wife.
Due to Failure and Disappointment
Based on the real life story of Silk Smitha, the main character of The Dirty Picture commits suicide at the end of the film. The characters of Anjaana Anjaani attempt to commit suicide numerous times for various reasons. In the Bengali film Hemlock Society, the main character decides to commit suicide to “escape from pain and suffering” and goes to Hemlock Society to learn how to commit suicide properly.
I’m sure that there are many more examples I have not thought of at the moment. The messages given in these films about suicide can be argued but the reality is that several students acually committed suicide after seeing 3 Idiots. It is still not certain whether 3 Idiots played a role in their decision.
Some of these films aim to emphasize high suicide rates in India or try to show that suicide is not the solution. But does it really work? Do these films actually end up instilling suicide as an option in the minds of viewers facing the same problems in real life? What do you think?