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Kyunki…Jeena Issi ka Naam Hai launched in New Delhi amid applause and music

The cast of Kyunki...Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai with Prasar Bharati CEO BS Lalli, Additional Health Secretary and Director of NRHM Girish Chaturvedi, UNICEF Representative Morten Giersing and film personalities Sameera Reddy and Farooque Shaikh at the launch

NEW DELHI: Kyunki…Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai, India’s newest soap opera, was launched on Doordarshan One channel this week in the presence of celebrities from Bollywood and top officials of the public broadcasting corporation Prasar Bharati and the government. The drama serial using the entertainment-education (e-e) format has been produced to inspire people to adopt critical health and pro-social behaviour. The key invitees at the launch were members of the cast of Kyunki…, Prasar Bharati CEO B.S. Lalli, Additional Health Secretary and National Rural Health Mission Director Girish Chaturvedi, UNICEF India Representative Morten Giersing, film personality Farooque Shaikh and popular film actress Sameera Reddy. The evening’s high points were the screening of a special preview of the serial and the performance of the title music by composer Abhishek Ray and his troupe.

Mr. Giersing said he expected Kyunki…to trigger social change, as in some other countries, and complement the efforts in the field aimed at enhancing the health status of people.

“We know from experience – both here in India with Hum Log (India’s first and a very popular soap) and around the world with initiatives such as Soul City in South Africa and Sesame Street in the United States – that television can be an incredible medium to promote positive, pro-social behaviour change.”

That Kyunki… is special for Doordarshan was borne out by Mr. Lalli’s statement. Doordarshan is committed to its role as a public service broadcaster while it is also committed to being financially self-sustaining. For that reason, the prime time is offered to entertainment programmes, not public-service oriented ones. “We evaluated Kyunki… and decided to give it a prime time slot. We have faith in the capability of UNICEF to produce a television programme that does the important job of educating people while it entertains them,” he said.

Kyunki… will attempt to connect hundreds of thousands of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and other health personnel in rural India. Mr. Chaturvedi said, “We have been looking for something that reaches out to ASHAs and health workers so that we can inspire them and make them feel good about their jobs. Kyunki…answers this very important need,” he said.

Prasar Bharati CEO BS Lalli at the launch of Kyunki...Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai on Wednesday, April 9, in New Delhi

The issue of the effectiveness of messages embedded in the storyline, characterization and plot twists was discussed by Farooque Shaikh. Mr. Shaikh said what made Kyunki… different from the other soaps was that it was rural while most soaps were set in urban India. “The rural people will identify with the characters of Kyunki…because they interact everyday with the real ASHAs and teachers,” he said. He also thought “education” stayed with the audience. “I noticed that after watching the episodes, the residue that is left is that vital information which people will use,” he said. He also said that with women playing many important roles, the programme would make a sure impact on its target audience – the 40 million underprivileged women of Hindi-speaking states. Ms. Reddy who introduced the cast said she would support the programme in the future as well.

The evening ended with a soulful rendition of the title song Kyunki Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai by its composer Abhishek Ray and his band of musicians and singers to a long round of applause.



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