More than two decades ago, Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Kundan Shah got together to make a show for Doordarshan, which dealt with the struggles of urban youth trying to make a living in an increasingly harsh social and economic climate. The show was Nukkad. The characters met at the local street corner every evening, where they shared their life stories and started new ones too.
Sixty nine-year-old Mirza is now back — this time without his friend and co-director Shah — on the same channel directing a show that will highlight the lives of people living in rural India. Titled Yeh Hai India Meri Jaan, Mirza's comeback is a travelogue in a docudrama mould.
It is a story of an urban girl, played by actress Madhvi Singh who sets out on a tour of interior India — covering several states including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. "Long ago, I met a girl who was worldly wise but knew little about the actual India, even though she claimed she did. Her thoughts were so interesting that it prompted me to think. I then decided to put down the basic premise, find a girl and then take her around India, shoot her on real locales and develop the story along the way," says Mirza. It is supposed to be a 26-episode show, but Mirza — who is still shooting it — believes it could exceed the given number of episodes.
Mirza, who has directed movies such as Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai (1980), Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro (1989) and Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho! (1984), has been known for his realistic portrayal of the urban middle class and the impact of communalism on society. Even through his TV shows Nukkad and Intezaar, Mirza focussed on everyday struggles. "It was the common man that fascinated me then and fascinates me now," states Mirza, who has shown the various facets of a common man's life in his latest show.
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