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This is life

http://www.thehindu.com/arts/radio-and-tv/article517020.ece

A first-of-its-kind show on Malayalam television ‘Kathayalla, Ithu Jeevitham’ attempts to tackle real life disputes on screen, whereby issues relating to familial and social relationships are taken up, discussed, mediated and settled to the satisfaction of all concerned.

“This is life in black and white. This is as real as it gets,” says Manoj Manayil about ‘Kathayalla, Ithu Jeevitham,’ the television courtroom show that he produces for Amrita TV. A first-of-its-kind show on Malayalam television ‘Kathayalla, Ithu Jeevitham’ attempts to tackle real life disputes on screen, whereby issues relating to familial and social relationships are taken up, discussed, mediated and settled to the satisfaction of all concerned. The legally-binding, out-of-court settlements are made under the aegis of Kerala Legal Services Authority (KELSA). Yesteryear heroine Vidhubala comes back into the spotlight after a 25-year hiatus, as the anchor of the show. The show airs on Saturday and Sunday at 6.30 p.m. Excerpts from an interview with Manoj about the show…

Family issues as the focus

Whatever problems there are, be it land disputes or instances of divorce/separation, custody disputes or even cases of cheating, on one level or the other, it ultimately affects the family as a whole. Besides, a survey that we conducted of cases before Women’s Commission, Family Court, the Women’s cell and so on brought into focus the psychological impact such issues have on families. Therefore we decided to focus on issues relating to family life.

Challenges

The biggest challenge was to get people to agree to air their grievances – and inevitably their private lives too – on screen. Understandably, at first most of them were apprehensive about airing the proverbial dirty linen in public and we had a considerable task on our hands to convince them that finding a solution to their problems was in their best interests and the interests of their families. Once we explained to them that the solutions would be legally-binding, most of them were gung ho about it. Another thing is that it is easy to get the plaintiff on board, but not always the defendant.

Bringing in KELSA

It was imperative that we bring in KELSA into the show for it is always better if the settlement reached is legally binding. A verbal agreement may not resolve the issue at hand and in this way the settlement is equivalent to a civil court order. KELSA and its member secretary, P. Mohan, were very enthusiastic about lending their expertise for this venture from the start.

Vidhubala as the anchor

For this particular show you need to have an anchor who is more of a counsellor. Since 90 per cent of the issues tackled involve women, we needed a woman at the helm and an easily recognisable one at that for we found that people can relate – and open up to – someone they recognise, better. Moreover, the anchor should appear empathetic, not be involved in any controversy and have life experience. We hit upon a goldmine when we thought of Vidhubala as the anchor. She fit the bill on all counts having managed her film career and then her home life with élan. An added advantage was that she majored in psychology for her graduation.

Response

It has been fantastic. In the first schedule, we focussed only on Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pattanamthitta, Kottayam, Idukki and Alappuzha districts. Of the 20 cases taken up, six have been settled completely and free legal help has been offered on four others. The others have been heard and solutions offered and asked to come back for further discussion. We hope to expand to other districts in the future.

 

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