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Cast upbeat as Kyunki…goes on air

© UNICEF/2008
Anupam Shyam, playing Gajendra, has acted in Bertolucci’s Little Buddha and many Indian films such as Lagaan and Bandit Queen and is excited about his role.

By Anupam Srivastava

On the sets of Kyunki…Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai: Geetanjali Gill is from Mumbai. So is Geeta Bisht. They are actors in Kyunki… but are in Delhi since the heart of cinematic action for the past few months has shifted from Mumbai. “It is for the first time that a television serial of this scale is being produced out of Delhi,” says Umesh, the Director of the television serial which premieres on April 7 on Doordarshan One, India’s national public television channel.

Geeta and Geetanjali are exhilarated by the way the programme is being produced – professionally and with great attention to detail. “When I took up this project, I had no idea it would be done so well and so professionally,” says Geetanjali. She initially thought that being a programme with welfare at its heart it could be very educative but was not sure if it would have the finesse of commercially produced television soaps. “I had acted in programmes about violence against women and other social issues but they were a bit flat,” she recalls. Geeta too did not know how the programme would shape up.

Since the very first day of Kyunki, Geetanjali and Geeta knew they had got themselves a real “break”. That it was being produced by Miditech, a well-known film and television production house, mattered to them and other members of the cast. Enthusiasm and energy on the sets of Kyunki are perceptible. “We are overjoyed. The long day passes in a breeze,” says Geeta.

The programme has a mix of experienced, known names from the entertainment industry and stage artistes and some who were pursuing a career in modelling. Anupam Shyam has acted in Bertolucci’s Little Buddha and in some of the recent chart-toppers in India such as Satya, Bandit Queen, Dil Se and Lagaan. Shyam said he was “enjoying” his role in Kyunki... “I like the character, the way social messages are being presented while making sure that the drama is gripping,” he says.

Actor Govind Pandey, playing Mangat Ram – a negative character and aptly supported by an imposing frame and a moustache which he twirls “to keep up the look” – has been an actor at the National School of Drama. Pandey is excited about his role. “I know the audience will hate me for what I am doing in the serial, but that is where my success will lie,” he says. Mangat is a villain outside his home but an angry bully to his wife inside. “The reason why I am unhappy in my family life is that I do not have a son. The story addresses the issue of gender discrimination very subtly and makes an impact on the mindsets of people,” he says.

© UNICEF/2008
Actors of Kyunki…prepare for the shoot at a Noida studio in the national capital region.

Umesh says that the major challenge lies in blending entertainment and education, and this is where lies his satisfaction as well. “It is one of the most exciting projects in my career,” he says. The “blending of e with e” he says will be subtle but certain. “The best mix would be when the audience just do not know where entertainment ends and education starts,” he says. The serial therefore uses ingredients that the audience love to have such as “kitchen politics” and strong female protagonists.

Well, how subtle will be the messaging? As the re-take of a scene is shot, Mangat storms into the health centre and demands to know if the health worker would do anything more worthwhile than advice women they should breastfeed exclusively for six months. “See, I just gave out a message. Did you notice that I was educating?” says Pandey, his smile showing through his moustache.

 

 

 

 

Kyunki…Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai: Key Characters

Kamla: Geetanjali Gill

Savita: Shweta Munshi

Shabnam: Geeta Bisht

Hiralal: Ishtiaq Syed

Phoolwati: Chandra Bisht

Gajendra: Anupam Shyam



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