Concerned over shrinking open spaces in the city, a group of citizens in Bengaluru has come together to raise awareness about encroachments and deteriorating condition of footpaths. The group, Malleshwaram Social, started with a door-to-door campaign last year, but the response to this drive was not encouraging. Committed to the idea, the group didn’t lose patience.
Recently, a casual conversation among the members led to the making of a quirky awareness video that went viral with #FootpathBeku (Footpath, we want). Speaking to indianexpress.com, Suchitra Srinivasan Deep, producer of the video, said they did not expect that the response to the video ‘Footpath Bharatnatyam’ would be so overwhelming. “Our idea was never to go viral. The reach has been fabulous,” she said.
The viral video features artistes performing Bharatnatyam and simultaneously highlighting the poor condition of footpaths in Malleshwaram. About choosing Bharatnatyam to send across the message, Sriram Aravamudan, another member of the group, said, “Malleswaram can be considered the cultural hub of Bengaluru, with several kathak and Bharatnatyam schools, Carnatic music schools functioning from here. So I thought that no video on Malleswaram will be complete without showcasing this facet.”
“The group was formed with the idea of becoming more social and community-minded. As the group members started meeting each other, we realised that there were a lot of civic issues that we could be taking up and one of them was the footpath issue,” says Deep.
However, the group had realised early that door-to-door approach was not a feasible option. “We can’t go door-to-door as we don’t have the bandwidth to do it and also because we were a fresh group,” Deep said. So they decided to launch a targetted campaign which could spread easily on social media. And that is how they decided to launch their campaign online through the video.
Aravamudan said senior citizens in Malleshwaram were finding it difficult to navigate through the footpaths which were deteriorating. “People were dumping garbage and debris on the footpath and encroaching the area. The whole idea (of the group) was to draw attention to the fact that this is not a civic department’s problem. It is a problem that everyone needs to tackle and that was the intention behind the video,” he added.