Our new journey of change began with Gumrah three years ago. Gumrah became our talking point because no other show had handled the subject of teenage crime on Indian television. From cyber bullying, peer pressure to molestation and date rape, Gumrah tackled all these issues and in a way, became a wake-up call. We never really bothered about ratings or popularity and were surprised when it became such a huge hit and generated clones on other channels.
The unprecedented success of Gumrah opened up our eyes. We realised there was a great need from the consumer’s point of view when it came to creating such content. And so we came up with stage two of our initiative — we launched the VithU App after the 2012 Delhi gang rape case. People always carry their mobile phones and this app was a way to ensure their safety. It has already crossed a million downloads. Fuelled by this feedback, we have now entered stage three with Heroes.
The new show replaces Gumrah and it goes beyond it too. Produced by Endemol India, Heroes is a 26-episode drama series based on the incidents of sexual assault in places such as hospitals, offices, schools and colleges.
The one-hour episode brings one sexual assault story to light from the point of view of the victim. It starts from the beginning — the first time they were harassed to that threshold moment when they could not take it anymore and fought back. These are stories that celebrate the fearlessness of the survivors who take on many social institutions and emerge as the real heroes of our society. This is Season one, and following seasons will have themes such as corruption and ragging.
Sexual assault takes place in our society every day in some form and a show like this will make people more cautious and also empower them. By creating such shows, it reiterates our belief in the philosophy that the abuse will stop when the silence does, and that a girl does not invite rape by wearing short clothes or that when she is harassed, she has not asked for it. The youth today is far more responsible than what is portrayed in the media.
One has to go beyond song and dance and reality shows to tap into that. We need to give our youth a voice and encourage them to come forward. There are two kinds of approaches when it comes to content generation — the immediate call of action like Satyamev Jayate and then there is the slow and steady one, where the focus is to change the mindset of the people wherein we take up a specific issue, present it and let it act as a catalyst of change. In the latter, one has to be consistent with the theme, engage the audience in a conversation and allow them to process it over time. We are letting people know and start a dialogue which is a step towards change.