Pune-based theatre group Swatantra Theatre’s focus on mental health

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Pune-based theatre group releases a documentary to mark World Mental Health Day on October 10

Pune-based Swatantra Theatre uses the lens of theatre to raise awareness on mental health. On World Mental Health Day on October 10, the group presents Common Sadness, a collaboration with Showroom MAMA, a visual arts and crafts centre. The Netherlands-based platform approached Swatantra to partner with them for a visual exhibition on Mental Illness. Directed by Swatantra’s Abhijeet Choudhary and performed by actors Dhanashree Heblikar, Durgeshwari Sharma Prithvi Sancheti and Shoham Gadkari, the film Common Sadness is written by the artists’ collective beyoncé (Netherlands)


The props assigned to the theatre group on mental illness were used artistically in a video shot at the main theatre of Film and Television Institute (FTII) Pune.

Then, on October 11, the theatre group’s documentary Suno Suno shows how theatre helped the migrant community to speak up on mental health. The community theatre play is based on a study conducted by De Montfort University, Leicester, Excavate Theatre London, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and Institute of Health Management (IHM) for 18 months.

“After 18 months of field work interacting with families and listening to their stories, we help the community put on a play about their stories and celebrating their lives. The underlying theme of drama was to show to the communities that seeking help from the people you trust, showing compassion and teamwork all make for better mental health,” says a spokesperson.


(Common Sadness and Suno Suno can be watched on Swatantra Theatre’s YouTube channel on October 10 and 11 from 6 pm onwards)

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