MKBKSH represents the lone voice of change,’ says Poonam Muttreja
Executive Director Populatio Foundation of India speaks on producing Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon and what makes it so succesful
In a recent announcement, National broadcaster Doordarshan announced that Population Foundation of India’s extremely popular edutainment show Main KuchBhiKar Sakti Hoon has set a new record for edutainment shows by managing a cumulative reach of 400 million and counting.
Main KuchBhiKar Sakti Hoon raises awareness among women, youth and communities on vital gender issues and illustrates how the prevailing skewed gender norms including social and familial roles result in negative health outcomes for girls and women, impacting the wellbeing of their families and on the progress of society at large.
Executive Director of Population Foundation of India, Poonam Muttreja, the organization who produced the show, shares her insights, experiences and speaks about Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon.
Why did you decide to produce a show like Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon?
MKBKSH was conceived in 2011, when PFI decided to use entertainment education to tackle issues of domestic violence, early marriage, women’s empowerment and family planning. Given that 90% of the Indian population across urban and rural areas has access to television, we were assured that a television series was the best medium that reaches out to a large audience to raise awareness on women’s health, highlighting vital gender issues using a women’s rights framework.When we decided to embark on this journey, extensive research by the PFI team and Feroz Abbas Khan in the field was conducted to understand the ground realities. Under the guidance of a renowned communications expert from the University of Texas,El Paso Prof Arvind Singhal – we experimented with the positive deviance approach wherein the positive behaviours of individuals within the community were identified and amplified in MKBKSH.
What is the most important message that you wanted to send out through the show?
Given that Indian prime time television is filled with larger than life protagonists who promote regressive social norms – the ‘ideal wife’ who does not stop loving her husband despite his proclivity towards vice and violence, the “ideal daughter-in-law” who bears unbearable torture at the hands of her in-laws with nary a squeak, the ‘ideal daughter’ who sacrifices her dreams for her family, the ‘ideal mother’ who quietly bears it all to keep her family together – MKBKSH represents the lone voice of change. A series devoid of saas-bahu shenanigans, of scheming and conniving women who are little more than heavily made up jewellery stands, of endless divorces and remarriages between the same characters. A series that reflects our everyday lives, that tackles our myths and misconceptions, that showcases how women can achieve anything and everything. A series that celebrates ordinary women and men who stand for gender equality.
Do you think MKBKSH has set a benchmark for other edutainment shows to follow?
Definitely, MKBKSH has set a benchmark for other edutainment shows. MKBKSH was the first in the country to use a360 degree approach – utilizing diverse channels and mediums to reach its audience – i.e. mass media, TV, radio, mobile, internet and community outreach through NGOs. The impact is evident:
– Most watched series with a cumulative reach (AIR & Doordarshan) of 400 million and still counting
– Recognizing its popularity Doordarshan re-telecasted the 131 episodes (Season one and Season two)
– It is among the first series to be dubbed in 11 regional languages and telecast on 16 DD regional kendras
– Broadcast over 216 AIR stations with a viewership of 60 million per week
– Over 1.8 million calls on the Interactive Voice Response Service
– Collaboration with the Ministry of Health And Family Welfare (MoHW) and UNFPA to promote ‘Saathiya’ – the peer educators programme.
With a cumulative reach of 400 million, has the show surpassed your expectations?
It has greatly surpassed our expectation, it definitely reiterates that media is the best and most effective medium for challenging deep rooted social norms.
In fact the data from an independent impact assessment of Season one also showed that PFI got the audience right: 40% of the respondents who watched the series were in the age group of 15-24 years, and half of the married women who watched the series were in the age group of 18-24 years. The series was watched by men (48% of respondents) as much as by women (52% of respondents).Most interestingly, we have struck a chord with the people across the country including men. Engaging with men has been a universal challenge on women’s issues and agency.
Will we have a third season of MKBKSH? If yes what issues would you like to tackle in season 3?
- Yes, MKBKSH Season three is being planned. We are currently in consultation with a range of experts, civil society organizations and stakeholders to prioritize the issues that need attention. We do intend to focus more specifically in reaching out to the youth as they will form the demographic bulge and investing in educating them on SRHR issues is definitely one of the many priorities.
- With the turn of the next decade, India will be the most populous nation in the world. Currently India has over 200 million adolescents and empowering them with access and information on reproductive and sexual health is a public health priority.
Reported by : Soumyabrata Gupta
*** Views expressed is a opinion of the author channel does not agree or disagree with the same***