FM Radio becoming new home to soap operas

Gender Equality

 
BBC World Service Trust, BBC’s international development charity, has developed a 156-episode Hindi drama, ‘Life Gulmohar Style’, which arguably will be India’s first long-running fiction series on FM radio.

The series, to be broadcast on All India Radio’s FM Rainbow stations in Delhi, Mumbai, Jalandhar, Lucknow and Kanpur starting from Wednesday, has a social message as all BBC WST programmes usually do.

Each 15-minute episode to be broadcast on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings will highlight gender equality and women empowerment, the idea emanating from the concerns regarding alarmingly-declining female sex ratio.

This is not the first time that BBCWST has taken up social issues in fictionalized format. Earlier, the serial ‘Jasoos Vijay’, which created AIDS-awareness through its HIV-positive detective protagonist, received excellent response from viewers when it was telecast a few years ago on Doordarshan for more than one season.

‘Life Gulmohar Style’ is the story of five young people in search of their destiny. It deals with a host of issues facing women today, including their sexual and reproductive health, violence, and their roles and responsibilities in a changing India, all in an entertaining way that stimulates listeners to question negative attitudes about women.

Selective abortion

Directed by the BBC’s award-winning producer Pervaiz Alam, the serial is the result of extensive research conducted by the BBCWST on how the media can be used to address the rising rates of sex-selective abortion in India.

“Our research shows that if the entertainment media were to depict the positive aspects of modern women, then it could be a force for change in increasing their value. Through this serial, we want to create a thought-provoking and entertaining drama that explores the reasons for the devaluation of females and demonstrates ways in which social pressure can be challenged,” says Yvonne MacPherson, Country Director of the BBCWST.

According to Alam, “It’s a sad fact that the genre of radio drama is declining in many countries, including India. But with the launch of ‘Life Gulmohar Style’, we are trying to tap the newer and younger audiences who are tuning into FM radio.”

Keeping with its social agenda, BBCWST will track audience reaction to the series on a dedicated website www.lifegulmoharstyle.org and through research will measure whether the show has had an impact on changing attitudes towards women.  

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