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Sania Mirza: Shocking to know that one person dies of TB every minute in India

MTV Nishedh Alone Together, featuring Sania Mirza, Priya Chauhan, Syed Raza Ahmed, Himika Bose and Akshay Nalawade, deals with the apathy around tuberculosis in India and stresses on the importance of proper medication and treatment.

Written by Sana Farzeen | Mumbai | December 13, 2020 4:12:38 pm
sania mirza mtv showMTV Nishedh Alone Together, which deals with the stigma around tuberculosis, marks the digital debut of Sania Mirza. (Photo: PR Handout)

Shot-at-home series MTV Nishedh Alone Together captures the journey of a couple Megha and Vicky who brave through professional challenges amidst the lockdown, coupled with concerns around Vicky’s tuberculosis treatment in the midst of COVID-19.

And joining them on the show is tennis star Sania Mirza who underlines the concern around tuberculosis in India and the need for right information and treatment.

In an email interaction with indianexpress.com, Sania shared her thoughts on associating with MTV Nishedh Alone Together, her acting experience and why it’s important to support such causes.

Excerpts from the interaction:

What made you associate with MTV Nishedh?

The cause is the hero here, and that’s what prompted me to come on-board. When I was approached for the series, I was excited about my digital debut but what really intrigued me is the subject that it is trying to highlight. Honestly, I didn’t have in-depth knowledge about TB, but when I read about it and the current situation in the country, I realised that this needed urgent attention. It is absolutely shocking to know that one person dies of TB every minute in India. If my voice can influence perception and make people more alarmed, there are no second thoughts in doing what I can to the best of my ability.

Do you think a show like Nishedh can make a difference?

It definitely does. The first edition touched upon some important issues like modern contraception, sex, TB etc. Now with a focused approach towards tuberculosis, in this digital edition, we’re bringing to light some of the issues that are not addressed publicly owing to societal stigma around it. More importantly, it is the youth that we are catering to. As drivers of change, I feel the young guns can bring about a change.

Since there’s a lot of “shame” in accepting certain diseases in front of society, how do you think one can get rid of the taboo?

The most important thing is to raise awareness. Stigma, misconceptions, access to right information around some of these diseases, including TB, has been the biggest challenge, and this has led to a lot of reluctance amongst individuals to speak up and go for the right treatment. All of us will have to collectively work towards challenging stigma around TB, and I firmly believe that every single voice matters. The need to create awareness is a small yet a significant step to address this concern and that’s what we aim to do with MTV Nishedh Alone Together.

As a youth icon, when did you realise that you wanted to give your voice for social causes?

I have always believed that when one has the ability to reach masses, they must definitely use this power to influence the world for the better. I have associated with gender equality cause in the past, and when the team of Nishedh approached me, I felt that this is a cause that I should definitely get behind.

Tell us more about your acting experience.

It was challenging and exhilarating in equal measure. In this shoot-at-home set-up, we were the cameramen, handling lights by ourselves, and acting too. So, all in one! But it was fun.

I play myself on the show. While I was at ease with my part in the show, I was nervous about how it would look because I am foraying into this space for the first time. It was all very new for me. But everything was smooth. Looking forward to the audience response now.

You shot for your part during the lockdown. Given you have a kid around, what kind of measures did you take while at work?

Initially, I was a bit hassled to think about shooting my part and having a toddler around me all the time. But I ensured that we took all the necessary precautions. Even when I had one or two people around me, I made sure Izhaan was not around, and would shoot at a time when he would be busy enjoying his playtime.

Since the show is based on the difficulties of a couple during lockdown, what was your biggest trouble in that phase?

It has been difficult to stay away from my husband for a long period of time. Initially, when the nationwide lockdown was imposed, there was a lot of uncertainty about how we will manage things, but I guess that happened to everybody. The best way was to be at home and ensure everyone’s safety, especially my toddler’s. I wouldn’t say things were troublesome, but yes, it was challenging and unsettling. I’m just hoping for things to get better so that the world is back to the ‘old normal’.

And what has been your biggest takeaway from the period?

The importance of time and having your loved ones around you. I got to spend the best time with my child and what a phase it has been. Since March, he and I have spent every single day together and to watch him grow has been the most beautiful thing. Every moment feels so special when you have your baby around you, and it really makes you think how important it is to find happiness and have a positive outlook towards life. It makes you feel complete. I couldn’t be more grateful to have all my near and dear ones by my side in these trying times.

Starring Priya Chauhan, Syed Raza Ahmed, Himika Bose and Akshay Nalawade in the lead roles, MTV Nishedh Alone Together streams every Friday on the channel’s social media platforms.

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