The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and UNICEF formally launched the Doordarshan and YouTube series titled Duur Se Namaste (“Greetings from a distance!”) at an event held today in New Delhi.
Duur Se Namaste, a fictional Hindi series developed in an entertainment-education format, highlights the challenges of a post-pandemic world and promotes the adoption of healthy behaviours and practices. Weaving messages on COVID-19 vaccine promotion and the need to continue COVID-19-appropriate behavior, the series includes tips for navigating mental health issues for children and young people and supporting children’s learning recovery as they return to school.
Additional Secretary and Mission Director (National Health Mission), Ms Roli Singh and Additional Secretary, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Ms. Neerja Sekhar were present at the inauguration. Ms. Singh spoke on the COVID-19 pandemic and outlined the way forward for the post-pandemic world. Ms Sekhar spoke on the critical role of Mass media and communications in health promotion.
Sharing the vision of the edutainment series, Ms. Veena Reddy, Mission Director of USAID India, said, “COVID-19 knows no borders, and no one is safe until everyone is safe. USAID is proud to support Duur Se Namaste, highlighting life’s challenges in the new normal and ways to navigate these through good health practices.”
Highlighting the importance of using mass media for behavioural change, Mr Arjan de Wagt, UNICEF India Deputy Representative a.i, said, “We know from scientific studies in India how impactful television can be in catalysing effective behaviour change, and we have seen the power of visual communication during the pandemic.
I am very pleased to join you for the launch of Duur Se Namaste, which is sure to provide not only excellent entertainment to a large audience but also create a space to discuss important themes like supporting children as they are now back to school, psychosocial support for children of all ages, and mental health challenges among young people.”
Reiterating the commitment of Doordarshan, Mr. Mayank Agrawal, CEO, Prasar Bharati and DG, Doordarshan said, “Duur Se Namaste is a very relevant show in the present times and as India’s Public Service Broadcaster, it is our mandate to ensure that such shows reach the public. We are happy to have this partnership with UNICEF and look forward to continuing our work together for public welfare.”
A theatrical film on Duur Se Namaste was screened at the event, taking the audience through the main story, and showing how the messages of vaccine promotion and COVID-19 Appropriate Behaviour (CAB) have been interwoven in the entertainment education series. The event also included a panel with the show’s lead actors Ankit Raizada, Dolly Chawla and Atul Parchure moderated by Manav Rath and Mannish Singh, from the creative team.
The series is produced by National Film Award winner and Padmashee, Nil Madhav Panda’s production house, Elleeanora Images Pvt. Ltd.
The edutainment series Duur Se Namaste has been on air on DD National at primetime slots since August 14, 2022. The show is broadcast every Sunday from 11 am to 12 noon, with repeat telecasts on Saturdays from 6-7 pm. The show is also available on Duur Se Namaste YouTube channel.
About the cast:
Ankit Raizada: Ankit is the main lead of Duur Se Namaste. A popular television actor, who has worked on shows like Jodha Akbar and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai. Ankitt plays Vishu, a COVID hero in the series, who helps his neighbours with their challenges and problems and works as a volunteer for the elderly and infected during the peak of the pandemic.
Dolly Chawla: Dolly plays Geet on the show Duur Se Namaste, a fun and career-oriented girl, who models women chasing their dreams. Dolly played lead roles in Sasural Simar Ka, Zindagi Mere Ghar Aana, Thapki Pyar ki among other shows.
Atul Parchure: Atul Parchure is a well-known Indian movie, television and theater actor. He is mainly known for his comedy roles in Marathi and Bollywood film industry. His career spanning over two decades includes roles in the popular Kapil Sharma Show, Jago Mohan Jago, R K Laxman ki Duniya among others.