Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon has succeeded in bringing about impactful changes at the grassroots level through its content. In its third season, the show calls for ‘Swachhta Elaan’ – a cleanliness pledge – with the story of its protagonist Dr. Sneha Mathur leading her village in tackling issues of sanitation and hygiene. #SwachhtaElaan , in this qawwali calls audiences to not only understand how hygienic practices such as use of toilets are essential for healthy, disease-free living, but also inspires them to pledge towards such a life. The action of the pledge or elaan is important here.”
The qawwali appeals to audiences through humour and earthy messages to take steps in order to achieve better health through good sanitation and hygienic practices. You can watch the qawwali here.
The initiative has reached millions of viewers and listeners through television and radio. The show has also changed the lives of people; as seen in the Reel to Real series. Inspired by the show, and the protagonist Dr Sneha, people have been able to turn around their lives by combatting regressive gender norms as the Men of Chhattarpur are doing, or by exercising agency and willpower like Ladkunwar Khushwaha did. Reel to Real is a series of short films documenting this change in the lives of viewers who have successfully flipped the story.
The Fiesty Ladkunwar Khushwaha
A girl going after her goal of higher education
In Nayagaon, Madhya Pradesh, 21-year-old Ladkunwar Khushwaha became the first girl from her village to graduate from a college. But the journey of going from a small government school in Nayagaon to a college 40 km away hasn’t been easy. She has had to battle the wrath of upper caste men in the village who didn’t want her to study in the fear that their suppressed women would want the same. From constant taunts against her parents to a near life-threatening accident orchestrated by her opponents, Ladkunwar has walked fearlessly in the face of all opposition to educate herself.
Inspired by the show Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon or I, A Woman, Can Achieve Anything, she even convinced her parents to abandon their plans for her marriage. “Invest in my education what you want to give for my dowry” she has told her parents. Armed with a supportive family and a drive to take charge of her own life, Ladkunwar has inspired many more girls in the village to take up higher studies.
Men of Chhatarpur
Singing of Equality and Shared Responsibility
After watching Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon (MKBKSH), a group of men in Chattarpur, Madhya Pradesh got together and decided they would shoulder responsibility for women’s position in their homes and in society. Habitual wife-beaters turned into empathetic partners and those who only wanted sons underwent sterilisation after one daughter. This 360-degree transformation occurred because local NGOs used the medium of MKBKSH to educate and start a dialogue with these men on their behaviour.
These men now sing songs to spread the message of women’s empowerment and gender justice across villages. They have made small changes in their lives, which include helping their wives with daily chores. One of the men quips, “I may even cook better than her!”
Talking About Sex with Nirma Devi
A wife convinces her husband to use condoms
“We use condoms in our house,” says Nirma Devi loudly and clearly with no indication of shyness or shame. Nirma Devi normalizes what most of India considers taboo. She speaks about different family planning methods in a clinical manner; taking out all the awkwardness attached to the subject of sex in the Indian hinterland in a village near Gaya, Bihar. Sitting in her house, she tells the story of her transformation – from a diminutive girl who married at an early age to now the unofficial brand ambassador of the family planning department. She attributes this change to watching Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon, or I, A Woman, Can Achieve Anything, along with the work done by a local NGO.
Women Find Strength in Unity
Women build networks through Self Help Groups
Women of Bairiya village near Patna, Bihar have formed a self-help group that meets, ideates and works towards the empowerment of every woman in the village. Motivated by the show Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon, or I, A Woman, Can Achieve Anything, these women meet once a week to discuss issues that they are facing.
Through this association, these women have been able to tame violent husbands and work against the practice of ghoonghat or veil, amongst others. Like one woman says, “We now find the village to be smaller than it used to be.” underlining how the collective of women are able to bargain for power from the everyday regressive, patriarchal culture because the struggle is not limited to one individual woman but becomes everyone’s struggle.