Mental Health and Music: A Rap Song for our Times

While it’s definitely Mask ON for physical health and safety, this Covid-19 pandemic, there’s a new rap song doing the rounds, that asks us to remove our figurative masks, in the interest of honest conversations.
We did a short e-interview with the artist, Pradyut Hande, to share more about his interest in Mental Health and what he wants to share via Nakaab Utaro.


1. What inspired your interest in Mental Health?
I’ve suffered from OCD-related germophobia for years now. I’ve been through my own bouts of anxiety and panic attacks that have often made day-to-day functioning an uphill battle. I’ve also had friends who continue to combat depression and anxiety. While there’s a great amount of literature available online around this. There’s still some degree of stigma attached to openly talking about mental health challenges and the road to recovery; or normalcy, if you will. And, that hesitation to reach out to trusted folks and truly opening up is a function of a societal outlook that lauds hustle, success, and emotional labour; and looks at insecurities, vulnerabilities, and failures with a borderline jaundiced eye.
This has a trickle-down effect on those fighting to keep their heads above water – the nagging thought of “what will they think or say?” echoes every step towards seeking a trusted shoulder to lean on or professional help that can address a genuine problem.



It was these personal experiences and conversations with those most affected that sparked a deeper interest and resonance with mental health and wellness. As a youth citizen journalist, social media influencer, and someone with a genuine desire to drive change through a socially-conscious voice – the least I can do is draw awareness to this cause and encourage more people to rally against the stigma associated with “being real” and seeking help. For their own good. For the collective good of our society.


Suicide Prevention
By Adwaita Das for The Health Collective


2. Why do you think it’s important to talk about mental health?


As complex human beings eager to please, appease, and appear happy, content, successful or satisfied with life at all times; we operate in our own existential bubbles. We operate with figurative masks (or nakaabs) on.
We’re quick to brush our fears, anxieties, stresses, vulnerabilities, and insecurities under the carpet. We often pretend that everything is okay, in our eternal quest to project ourselves as normal.
That’s a manifestation of human courage and spirit. But, that can only take you that far. Beyond that, we only kid ourselves under the cloak of denial. We extend our pretensions to social media. We scroll down superficial social media feeds of others. This reinforces our sense of disillusionment. And, eventually takes a toll on our mental health.
And, the lockdown and long periods of self-quarantine in 2020 haven’t made it any easier on us. Pressures of work from and for home have only added to stress levels already amplified through physical confinement. This is precisely why mental health is paramount and just talking about what may be bothering us can be a massive step towards maintaining our sanity.
I encountered it first-hand. And, realised there was something I wanted to do about it. That was the seed of the idea for “Nakaab Utaro”. I also wanted to keep it real, relevant, and relatable – through the creative medium of music. This is my honest and raw attempt at telling my own story and also encouraging people to face themselves in the mirror, seek help, and have those visceral and uncomfortable conversations with those that they trust.
A frustrated society on edge and mentally ill at ease is not the ideal recipe for collective growth. And, the first step towards addressing that is by eroding the taboo around talking about mental health.


3. What kind of reactions have you been getting to the song?


“Nakaab Utaro” is a Hindi rap song that aims to normalize conversations around mental health. Written, composed, and shot completely at home – it’s garnered a lot of positive feedback on YouTube and social media. Many people who have heard the song have personally reached out to me and told me that this has emboldened them to take personal action; or at least contemplate taking their mental and emotional issues more seriously. The lyrics have resonated with audiences both in India and abroad. That’s the power of touching upon a relevant human issue through a creative and social medium.
It has also received good feedback from the medical and healthcare community including psychiatrists, counsellors, therapists, and other mental health professionals. In fact, the track is also being used by medical professionals and students to engage with those most affected. The response has been overwhelming as it continues to gather greater eyeballs and listenership through social sharing. It’s also strengthened my belief in what I’m trying to achieve through my music and is a harbinger of bigger and better things to come – as we collectively  try and build a holistically healthy society; especially during these uncertain times.


About the Artist:
Pradyut Hande is a B2B SaaS Marketing Leader and Podcaster by day and a Musician and Content Creator by night. He aims to use his voice to raise more voices against some of the biggest socio-cultural ills that plague our existence today. You can find him on Insta here, on Youtube and on Twitter here.


Feature Image: Art by Kishore Mohan for the Health Collective