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UNICEF and partners present gripping tele-series focused on social issues in India

© UNICEF India/2008
Actors prepare on the set of the UNICEF-supported educational and entertainment television series, ‘Kyunki...Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai’.

DELHI, India, 7 April 2008 – Actresses Geetanjali Gill and Geeta Bisht are in Delhi, filming ‘Kyunki...Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hai’ (‘Because...That's What Life Is’), a tele-series created in partnership with UNICEF and the Prasar Bharti Broadcasting Corporation.

Built around UNICEF's global publication ‘Facts for Life’, the series – which beings airing today – will touch on an array of issues critical to India’s achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

‘Facts for Life’ aims to improve children’s lives by educating parents and caregivers with information that they can act upon. The tele-series will depict characters tackling real-life issues, while providing valuable messages to the public. Its goal is not only to entertain but also to educate, on subjects ranging from maternal mortality and HIV prevention to girls’ education.

UNICEF hopes the series will reach some 40 million women. “It is for the first time that a television serial of this scale is being produced out of Delhi,” says the director of the programme, Umesh.

Entertainment for education
Broadcast on India’s national public television channel, Doordarshan One, the series is the culmination of almost two years' work. Set in a fictional rural village, the show follows six distinct characters as they struggle through their daily lives.

Umesh says the major challenge lies in blending entertainment and education. “The best mix would be when the audience just do not know where entertainment ends and education starts,” he explains.

© UNICEF India/2008
Anupam Shyam, in character as Ganjendra on the ‘Kyunki’ TV series, has praised “the way social messages are being presented” on the show.

Initially, Ms. Gill says, she had reservations about whether a programme with social welfare at its heart could be educational and still have the finesse of a commercially produced drama. As work began on the series, she and her fellow cast members soon saw that all partners were committed to making it a success.

“When I took up this project, I had no idea it would be done so well and so professionally,” says Ms. Gill. “I had acted in programmes about violence against women and other social issues, but they were a bit flat.”

Experienced actors, subtle messages
The programme features experienced, well known actors from the Indian film and television industry. Govind Pandey, who plays the bullying Mangat Ram, 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, adding that Mangat is not only a villain outside the home but an angry bully to his wife.

“The reason why I am unhappy in my family life is that I do not have a son,” he explains, speaking in character. “The story addresses the issue of gender discrimination very subtly and makes an impact on the mindsets of people.”

How subtle will the message be? In one scene, Mangat storms into a health centre and demands to know if a worker there can do anything more worthwhile than advise women to breastfeed exclusively for six months. “See, I just gave out a message. Did you notice that I was educating?” Mr. Pandey asks with a smile.



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