Chhavi Tyagi

UTV Bindass gets together with college students for street plays

The channel launches Naatak Kar, Desh Badal, an on-ground initiative, as part of its 'I Change. India Changes' campaign

For UTV Bindass, 'I Change. India Changes' is not just another campaign. Ashok Cherian, business head, Bindass, calls it “a social movement”. Taking that thought forward, the entertainment channel has launched an on-ground initiative under the campaign, called ‘Natak Kar, Desh Badal’.

Cherian remarks, “As a channel, we have always found new ways and places to communicate with the youth, our target group. And the college campus is the heart of such places. We have already launched a TVC, urging this section of the country to realise the importance of voting. But, we didn’t want to limit ourselves to just TV ads and hoardings; we wanted the youth to actively participate in this movement.”

The initiative saw college students enacting self-written street plays on the subject of 'Ungli Utha Vote Kar: Power to the Youth'. A total of 70 colleges across six cities – Delhi, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Lucknow and Kolkata – participated in the initiative.

The brief provided to all the shortlisted colleges for the plays was simple – Bindass didn't want the plays to focus on negative sentiments. For instance, students were asked to refrain from writing scripts that pegged the appeal to vote on themes such as corruption or the administration misusing tax money. Instead, they were asked to use positive messages to convince their peers to exercise their right to vote.

UTV Bindass gets together with college students for street plays
UTV Bindass gets together with college students for street plays
Commenting on the focus on street plays, Cherian says, “Street plays are a powerful medium. They are not just participative, but also deliver the message in a strong manner. This medium has the power to stop 100 people in a crowd and hold them still throughout its delivery.”

The plays were staged in the college premises; and a panel comprising local people active in social movements, theatre personalities and young politicians judged the best of the lot. For instance, at Hindu college in Delhi University, the panel comprised actor and director, Vivek Mansukhani, actors Rahul Bose and Koel Purie, and the CEO of Bindass, Zarina Mehta.

From each city, one play was chosen as the winner. The plays were judged on a number of criteria, such as clarity of the message, script, storytelling ability, acting abilities, teamwork and so on. Also, all the plays were given a time limit of 15 minutes. Activists from Janagrah, a non-governmental organisation, also played a Jaago Re presentation for all the people present during the staging of the plays, in order to drive awareness on voting.

Bindass has also worked out partnerships with a number of popular youth hangouts, such as PVR and Future Group's retail stores, to stage all the plays in their premises. This will begin during the next week.

In addition, the channel plans to stage all the winning plays in Mumbai, in front of the young parliamentarians of the nation. The guest list and the date for the event is being finalised, and it will probably be held later this month. The winning plays will also be compiled on a DVD, which will be presented to the Prime Minister of India.

The call for registration was made through the channel itself and more importantly, by approaching the colleges individually. The initiative, conceptualised in-house by Bindass and executed by Encompass, is in partnership with Jaago Re and Janagrah. The initiative will run till the elections in April, mobilising the youth to come forward and make an active change.

This is just one part of the 'I Change. India Changes' campaign. UTV Bindass will take up other youth relevant issues in the months to come, in partnership with different NGOs.