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Anupamaa producer Deepa Shahi: “In terms of mental health, the show has played a crucial role”

Producer Rajan Shahi’s mother, Deepa Shahi, who has also produced the show, says that this was required on Indian TV.

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Deepa Shahi and Rajan Shahi

While Anupamaa came as a beacon of hope to many women, helping them realise what they want from life, the show also touched upon many important aspects such as mental health. Producer Rajan Shahi’s mother, Deepa Shahi, who has also produced the show, says that this was required on Indian TV.

“When we portrayed Pakhi’s experience as a teenager, it aimed to raise awareness about the need to pay attention to every aspect of a child’s emotional growth and take appropriate action. In India, many people tend to prioritise physical well-being over mental health, despite the fact that mental health significantly impacts one’s physical state. Therefore, I believe it was essential for the Indian audience to understand that mental health concerns should be acknowledged, given importance, and their voices should be heard. In terms of mental health, the show has played a crucial role,” she says.

Ask her what she wants to convey to the men watching the show, and she says, “They have come to realize that women hold immense importance and should not be confined to domestic roles alone. Women have their own perspectives and life aspirations that go beyond this. Men should support them in fulfilling these ambitions. To truly be a complete man, you need to allow women the space to thrive in their lives. This is my perspective. For instance, I have two granddaughters—one is pursuing media studies in Sydney, and the other is in graphic design in Canada. One should emphasize personal growth, and by doing so, you can face life with enhanced confidence. It’s crucial to prioritise individual progress.”

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Talking about toxic masculinity prevalent today, she says, “As women become stronger and assert their preferences in life, men are increasingly able to better understand them. Initially, women were often silenced, unable to voice their ambitions and desires beyond domestic responsibilities. Now, women are achieving parity with men in every aspect of life. This encompasses not only work but also in gaining a more comprehensive understanding of women’s experiences. Men have started to comprehend women much more deeply and empathetically than before.”

Meanwhile, she says that one should never look down on housewives or mothers who sacrifice their careers for their kids. “A mother must make certain sacrifices for a certain period, at the very least. However, it doesn’t mean that a woman should completely forsake her domestic responsibilities. I don’t believe in that notion. As a child grows up, they require nurturing and understanding. A child should have their mother’s presence, without a doubt,” she says.

She adds, “Men are also expected to contribute to domestic work. Equality is important. When a woman goes out to work, a man should also contribute; it should be a joint effort. After coming back from work, a woman should not solely bear the burden of household chores. Men should assist and actively participate. This is the perspective of the new generation, and it is absolutely correct. Men should engage in household activities as well. Nowadays, women work outside the home just like men do, and they return tired as well. Thus, both men and women should understand each other’s feelings and the amount of emotional support required. This level of understanding is crucial. It’s not fair to confine women to a corner and burden them excessively.”

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