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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation partners Viacom18 for show on sanitation

Viacom18, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and BBC Media Action join hands to bring India's first fiction television series on urban sanitation: Navrangi Re!

BS Reporter  |  Mumbai 

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Media and entertainment network Viacom18, has partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and development communications specialists, Action to create a general entertainment fiction series with an underlying behaviour change message on sanitation.

The 26-episode finite series called ‘Navrangi Re!’ will launch in January 2019 and will go on-air, bi-weekly, over 13 weeks, on the network’s Hindi general entertainment channel – Rishtey, its regional language channels – COLORS Gujarati and COLORS Odia. The show will be the first original production on Rishtey and will also be available on the network’s OTT platform VOOT.

A maiden effort for Indian satellite television, this is an initiative to bring real development issues to the masses in an entertaining format – issues that are otherwise packaged in typical research or data reports, which oftentimes do not reach the mass audience.

Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO and MD, said: “We at believe in the power of partnerships to effect impact at scale. With ‘Navrangi Re!’, we are creating a platform that aptly uses the medium of entertainment to bring in mass behaviour change.” Explaining Viacom18’s partnership with the project, he further added, “Sanitation has been a cause that we are closely associated with, whether through our sustainability project ‘Chakachak Mumbai’ or our film ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’. We hope to engage our audiences with powerful storytelling and intend to bring forth the importance of faecal sludge management to keep Bharat Swachh.”

‘Navrangi Re!’ is the story of a congested mohalla (a neighbourhood) in a town in Northern India full of real, but quirky and endearing characters. Vishwaas, the hero of this 26-episode television drama series, played by actor Aamir Ali, is a struggling TV journalist who is not able to deliver ‘breaking news’ stories and finds his job on the line. But in this hunt for stories, he discovers the gateway to bring about change for his Mohalla, aided by a few others. It is entertainment all the way using an ensemble cast made up of thespian actors such as Sushmita Mukherjee, Raju Kher, Vaishnavi Dhanraj and other promising talent.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has funded Action to create and develop ‘Navrangi Re!’. The show is being produced by Swastik Productions.

Madhu Krishna, India country lead, WSH, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said, “We are very excited about working with and Action on ‘Navrangi Re!’. In our mission to inspire people to take action to change the world, we partner with government, non-profits, academic institutions, and private sector. However, this is the first time that Gates Foundation has partnered with a satellite television network in India. ‘Navrangi Re!’ is an innovative approach to engage TV viewing audiences, digital citizens and social media users on sanitation issues.”

Speaking about the partnership, Radharani Mitra, global creative advisor, BBC Media Action said: “BBC Media Action has created narrative-based interventions across the world, in partnership with public and private sector media networks that deliver a message but still entertain, and bring back viewers week after week. That’s where the power of storytelling and compelling content come in. This partnership takes ‘flush ke baad’ (after flushing) into the space of mainstream media to reach TV viewing audiences.”

First Published: Thu, December 20 2018. 06:30 IST
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