Darpana Communications was setup in 2001 by Yadavan Chandran, a film major whose interests in developmental communications brought him to the shores of the Academy. Under his guidance, Darpana Communications or DCOM, has produced more than 3000 hours of television programming on various social issues that have been broadcast.
In 2001, DCOM created 31 music videos talking about various issues like Education, Adult Education, the Environment, Women's Empowerment, Gender Equality and Prejudice.
With a grant from the Ford Foundation, it embarked in 2002, on a three year journey to create Television programming that focussed primarily on Women's Empowerment. Programming was created in multiple-genres like fiction, chat shows, docu-fiction and many others, and spoke about issues ranging from menstruation, adolescent health, education of the girl child, pre and post-natal health practices, consumer rights, legal issues for women, the environment, changing gender roles, menopause, marital relations, true-life stories of change makers. This has subsequently become the largest archive of programming on women in Gujarati. The prototypes have inspired similar programmes in several languages including in Hindi on National Television and continues to be used as training materials for government agencies and NGOs.
Following the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat, DCOM also created a variety of television programming, to reknit fragmented sections of society by celebrating India's plural culture.
1. Srishti - The Environment Quiz (2005 – 2011) (approach 5: television and films)
The Environment Quiz became Gujarat’s first TV quiz competition dealing with the issues of the environment. Over a period of six years, four editions of this eco quiz brought together thousands of Gujarat’s school children into thinking about the environment, not as a class room subject, but as an integral part of life. It was funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
Impact: A total of 8000 schools were made a part of this quiz. Srishti became the highest viewed programme on Gujarati television. As a result of this programme, many schools in Ahmedabad and Gujarat have changed the way they teach environment in their syllabus.
2. AapniBapor (Our Afternoon) (2003-2005) (approach 5: television and films)
AapniBapor was a one hour daily television show on Doordarshan Gujarati that went on for three years. Comprising of over twenty different shows the series used fiction, soap operas, quizzes, chat shows and newly created innovative vox pops combined with expert opinion and audience involvement on women’s subjects ranging from menopause and infertility, girl child education, family relationships, the preference for male children, career development, general health, nutrition, adolescent issues and more. DVDs of these programmes are still being used by NGOs in the State.
Impact: On a conservative estimate, about 1.2 million people saw this program. Many of the programmes are being used by departments of ministries and NGOs for training and sensitization. CHETNA, a leading NGO and the Ministry of Women and Child Development are using the adolescent programs (titled ‘Umbar’) in schools and in groups to sensitize them. The All India Obstetricians and Gynecologist Association has been using the show on menopause to spread awareness during their conferences and workshops with women.
1. Unsuni (2006-2007) (approach 4: performance at mainstream venue)
Created with the support of the Royal Dutch Embassy and Axis Bank Foundation,Unsuni is a physical, musical theatre piece based on Harsh Mander’s book Unheard Voices. It gives voice to five of India’s millions of voiceless people through a series of monologues, reflecting on their struggles, their courage and their victories. For some videos on the same, click here.
Unsuni was performed pro bono over hundred and twenty times for eighteen thousand students in three different languages. Each performance was followed by a long discussion with the audience about the issues raised by the play. A Delhi-based theatre group, ‘Asmita’, continues performing them, and has performed over 200 performances of the same.
Impact: After the show, audience members were encouraged to enroll in volunteer activities to bring about change in India: in the time that Unsuni toured India, over seven thousand people signed up to volunteer in their own communities.