classic movies

‘Zoolander’, the ultimate really, really, ridiculously great dumb comedy

Ahead of the sequel in February, take a second look at the 2001 comedy featuring the comic talents of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.

It’s no shocker that the trailer of Zoolander 2 has notched up so many views on YouTube. The sequel of the hit comedy Zoolander (2001) comes with a cast as incredible as the original. Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson are recruited by the Interpol to investigate a series of assassinations, and they are joined in their efforts by former swimsuit model Penelope Cruz. Together they are fighting to stop the “world’s most beautiful people” from being killed. And while the movie has been attacked for Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of a transgendered person, the fact to remember is that Zoolander has always been about parodying a trend or an obvious stereotype.

The sequel will be released on February 12 in the United States of America. It could easily be as funny as the original or a disappointment like so many other sequels. Either way, the trailer and posters are reasons enough to revisit the comic brilliance of Zoolander.

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Zoolander tells the story of a male model who may not be the smartest cookie in the jar but is blessed with a perfect bone structure. Having been the biggest deal in the fashion industry for a long time now, Derek Zoolander (Stiller) is now almost past his prime. He is being overthrown by the angel-winged, tea-sipping rising star Hansel (Wilson), who is “so hot right now”.

When Derek loses the title of VH1’s Male Model of the Year and three of his roommates to a “freak gasoline fight accident”, he has an epiphany and is suddenly “pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking.” He decides to go back home but is rejected by his tough coal miner father, who is embarrassed by a commercial in which his son is dressed like a mermaid (sorry Derek, it’s merMAN), and obviously annoyed at Derek’s suspicions that he might be getting the black lung one day into the job.

Hurt and vulnerable, Derek returns to New York City and is instantly hired as the headliner for a new line by Jacobim Mugato (Will Ferrell), called Derelicte. But there is more than meets the runway here. It’s not just a fashion show, it’s an assassination.

Derek and Hansel are joined by a journalist, Matilda (Christine Taylor), whose obvious dislike for everything ‘fashion’ stems from the fact that she was once bulimic. As Derek deduces from that, she can read minds.

The movie is full of brilliantly dumb jokes. From Stiller’s trademark Blue Steel to David Duchovny’s Glass Dome, the gags are unique and the dialogue is still memorable 15 years later. The movie is studded with star cameos by over 40 celebrities, including Gwen Stefani, Billy Zane, Natalie Portman, Vince Vaughn, Jon Voight, Paris Hilton, Victoria Beckham, Cuba Gooding Jr and Donald Trump. There is also David Bowie in here. The incredible David Bowie. And that is always a good thing.

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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.