Web series

What happens when four women get into a car? The web series ‘The Trip’

Shweta Tripathi, Lisa Haydon, Mallika Dua and Sapna Pabbi hit the road for a bachelorette vacation from Delhi to Thailand.

The web series The Trip puts four women on a bachelorette trip from Delhi to Thailand. Sapna Pabbi, last seen in 24, is yoga aficionado and control freak Sanjana; Mallika Dua is Nazia, a Delhi resident with a batty sense of humor; Shweta Tripathi gets into the shoes of the hastily engaged, angelic Ananya with ease; Lisa Haydon plays struggling musician Shonali in a bohemian avatar that is reminiscent of her performance as the feisty Vijaylakshmi in Queen.

The Trip is the latest Bindaas channel production to depict female experiences, and follows in the footsteps of the web series Girl in the City and television show Queens Hai Hum. An effervescent version of the oft-trodden road trip trope, The Trip chronicles the misadventures of the four women with a steady stream of giggling banter and whispered confessions. With pretty visuals and an evocative background score, The Trip looks a lot like a spiffily made Hindi film that has been snipped at the right places.

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The Trip episode 1.

“I didn’t think of it as a show about womanhood,” said series director Lakshya Raj Anand, who has previously been an assistant director on Bang Bang! and Ek Tha Tiger. “For me, it was simply a story about four friends going on a trip from Delhi to Thailand.”

The director joined the project three months before it went on air on December 16. At the time, the characters had been etched out without a specific plot in place. “Around the time when we were working on the show, this highway opened up between Delhi and Thailand, which fascinated me,” Anand said. “So we thought, let’s put them together in a car on a road trip and see what happens.”

Although there was never a conscious attempt to emulate any film, Anand acknowledges the impact of popular road movies. “Films like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Dil Chahta Hai have been very popular, so to a certain extent, these films might have affected how our story panned out,” he said.

As a man trying to tell a story about four women, Anand often relied upon his actors to credibly depict female banter. The gender difference did not matter once the filming started, according to him. “Obviously sometimes it came across and people said you don’t know how women talk,” he said. “But I stayed away from it. We didn’t look at it from a gender perspective, so I think that’s why what we came up with is so refreshing.”

Anand moulded the characters partially on people he knew in an attempt to make them seem realistic. “We have tried to tell a story about four different girls across a spectrum and that’s why I think they will be quite relatable,” he said.

Small portions of the show were not scripted before the shooting began. “Sometimes we didn’t have scripts on the day we were making the plot,” Anand recalled. The team would then work together to refine the scenes. This kind of collaborative creation came with its ups and downs: “On some days it can go really badly. But on other days, if your team supports you, it can go very nicely and naturally.”

The leads also channelled their personal experiences to play their parts. “These women are magicians,” Anand said. “They are so natural in their parts. They have blended into their roles very beautifully.”

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The Trip episode 2.
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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.