Mental health issues can creep up on anyone, anytime. This pandemic has been a test for all of us—normal life as we know it is fading from memory with each day. Friends and social gatherings seem like long-lost dreams. Prospects reduced, opportunities diminished. It has been hard for everyone. But then, many in the creative field had it worse. Creativity, being a double-sided sword, can chew into our mental health just as easily as it helps the world prosper.
Vishnu Prabhakar, a Thiruvananthapuram-based cinematographer and photographer, experienced something similar. He realized that being idle is probably the worst thing he can do to himself and thought of ways to get his creative juices flowing. That is how he zeroed in on the concept of a photo series on ‘mental health’ which shows the many sides of creativity and self-loathing, and the ultimate light of self-love that solves everything.
“I’ve gone through emotional extremities during this lockdown. I was worried if I’ll get work once the pandemic settles. Finally, I decided not to waste time worrying about the future and get engaged. So, when the thought of a shoot occurred, I wanted to narrate my own struggles,” says Vishnu. He has cranked the camera for the Malayalam web series ‘Ennum Varunna Dhoomakethu’ and worked as an associate cinematographer for the movie ‘Vrithakrithiyilulla Chathuram’.
He has effectively used shades, tones and lighting to represent emotions. “I’ve used dark shades like red and blue for depicting depression. The styling is out of a fairytale for the post-depression frames, where she fights the darkness with determination. Yellow and peach bring in this transition. The photos where the model’s eyes are bandaged, with blurry detail represents the confusing days in depression where you can’t be sure of yourself,” adds Vishnu. Model Aishwarya Nandkumar is the muse. Rini Alex managed MUA and styling.
Some of Vishnu’s photos were released on Mental Health Day and received good response on social media platforms. “Many people messaged me saying they could relate to the narrative,” says Vishnu. He adds how important it is for people to diagnose mental health issues during early-onset and get help. “I’ve gone through it many years back. It took me a while to realise it was depression. There’s no shame in getting help because other people won’t be able to identify your situation. As an artist, this is my way of helping the society.”