A glimpse into the 'other' side

NEW SHOW

Baby Lali, with her parents (part of the ‘India’ series).

National Geographic’s engaging new series, India, urges its viewers to discard their prejudices towards the latter and accept their ‘differences’, by giving us a glimpse into their lives.

Excerpts from an interview with Sudha Sadhanand, Vice President — Programming, National Geographic Channel India:

What is the show about?

India is a collection of never-seen-before films which are the best description for what we term as ‘infotainment’. These are films that salute those who struggle to be ordinary. It showcases a nation which operates at many levels and reminds viewers that there is no one established truth so to speak, but several ways to look at the same. It points out just how the sacred and the profane co-exist side by side in India. A child who is born with a congenital anomaly is worshipped like a goddess; eunuchs celebrate their third gender and fall in love; girl children are killed or abandoned at birth but there is always scope for hope and comfort, and even the story of a woman who lives happily with two husbands. 

‘A Girl With Two Faces’, ‘India’s Ladyboys’, ‘The Man Who Was Pregnant’... Isn’t there a possibility that people who have never visited India are going to get a rather narrow and tilted view of India?

Globally, we package our shows differently in each country. Having said that, with this series on India, we are showcasing the different facets of our country — aspects that many people may not have seen before. India is a growing economy and we  have shows which communicate that aspect extremely well — series such as Megacites where Mumbai was part of the eight megacities in the world including London, Las Vegas, Mexico City, Hong Kong, Paris, Sao Paulo and New York.

Similarly, there is yet another series titled Emerging India, where we showcased a film called Bombay calling which highlighted the emerging BPO industry in the country. Therefore, with India we come a full circle —showcasing the little known, but extremely important aspects of a multi-layered country such as ours. 

Who is your target audience?

Our shows appeal to a wide range of audiences starting from children to young adults and to adults, as also have traction amongst both men and women and in English and Hindi speaking regions. However, our core target audience is 25+ urban males.

‘A standing ovation to those who struggle to be ordinary’ — you say. By making a series on them, wouldn’t you be re-emphasising their ‘differences’?

It is important that we are sensitive to the fact that there are people in this world who are different, and they need to be part of the mainstream, so to speak. Despite progress, there is a general tendency of either ignoring their presence or criticising them for not being part of the so-called normal universe. We are hoping to showcase India as it really exists and also to create awareness which can help direct some support towards the people who struggle to lead normal lives. For instance, baby Lali, whose story is showcased in A Girl with Two Faces could have been saved if she had received timely medical attention in place of the line of ‘worshippers’ that she had attracted and for no fault of hers.

What makes a show like this relevant, apart from the fact that it will attract viewers?

At National Geographic Channel, we contribute to the National Geographic Society’s commitment towards education. It is our constant endeavour to provide locally relevant content to our viewers which makes them re-think about the world that they live in. India is one such initiative and apart from getting viewership, our aim is to create awareness about some of the real issues people still face in a country which is amongst the world’s fastest growing economies. 

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