Using Media Innovatively To Change The World
With over 3000 hours of developmental television experience, Darpana is a leader in the use of television for change
Founded in 2001 Darpana Communications is perhaps the country’s most innovative producer of development television programming. Lead by YadavanChandran it has developed new genres of material to cater to the specific needs of India’s many development challenges. Taking from our ancient culture of using stories, pictures, dance, music and theatre for education it has used all these and more to talk of issues as diverse as the need to vote in a democracy, to women’s health, domestic violence, the environment, communalism and caste hatred, religious intolerance and gender issues, amongst others. D Com is a space for young people to come together and produce relevant television programming, and to explore new ideas. It has welcomed fresh graduates who want to make material that makes a difference, before succumbing to the lures of commercial advertising or films.
Over the years D Com has worked with a huge range of people: artists from many countries, grass root workers, NGOs, change makers, weavers from across the country, other media organizations, dancers, musicians and activists.
In 2001 D Com’s journey began with a project, Asopalav for the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s Adult Literacy wing,.Mallika Sarabhai, a firm believer of the power of popular forms art and media to communicate serious social issues ,approached the Ministry with an idea for music videos to talk of literacy, women’s empowerment, social prejudice and the need to save the environment. She created a team Gujarat’s most well known poets and music composers. D Com created 31 music videos. Broadcast many times over, the material is used frequently, and the women’s empowerment songs are regulars at weddings!
The next obvious step was to use television for development communication. In 2002, with funding from Ford Foundation, D Com launched a three year project, AapniBapor( Our Afternoon) focussing on empowering women. After intensive research to understand the issues facing women – urban and rural, all ages and all segments of society- 31 new programmes were created and ran for the next three years, one hour every afternoon. Over 200,000 women appeared on TV for the first time in their lives. 130 of Gujarat’s most exceptional women shared their strengths and vulnerabilities in a programme called The Face Behind The Mask. 750 hours of new programming was created and aired.
SAT, the pilot programme created in partnership with the Planning Commission envisaged a TV channel exclusively aimed at fun development programming. Over 40 new programmes were created for this in a one month experiment which emphasised public participation in dealing with knotty issues concerning governance.
In 2005-6 D Com’s team travelled around India documenting textile traditions for a Darpana ideated book and DVD project called TanaBana: The Lesser Known Textiles of India. The project was envisaged to bring the world of designers to work with traditional weavers and was for the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India.