Drama Queen: a new BBC series in Hindi and Urdu says, I hear you

Saturday, 16 April 2022 (14:26 IST)
Have you ever been called “drama queen” for drawing attention to something that is affecting you – and needed someone to hear you out?  The BBC’s ground-breaking new five-part podcast series, running on multiple platforms, Drama Queen hears out those who have refused to be victims, who have pushed back when friends and family wanted them to conform, and who have found new ways to forge a path for themselves – on their own terms.

Going live from Saturday 16 April, the Drama Queen series is produced and presented in Urdu and in Hindi by the BBC’s India-born journalist, Samrah Fatima.  Uniquely for the region, Samrah has created a podcast that brings voices from both India and Pakistan, discussing, in two language versions, deeply rooted social issues that straddle both countries. Her guests are drama queens each in their own way, who make fuss, speak out and stand out.

Published weekly, from Saturday 16 April, on the BBC News Hindi and BBC News Urdu websites and YouTube channels, the series then will be available on request.  Short versions will feature on the BBC News Hindi and BBC News Urdu social-media platforms. Both language versions of Drama Queen will also be available on audio streaming platforms Spotify and Apple. In Hindi, the series will also be available via the digital audio platforms Gaana and JioSaavn, on Indian FM radio stations Misty (in Siliguri and Gangtok) and Tomato FM (in Kolhapur), via the JioChat and DailyHunt apps and the JioCinema streaming service.  The Urdu version also will be available via Patari, the audio streaming service.

Samrah says: “We all need to understand the root causes of anguish and hidden depression that many of us are silently dealing with every day.  As someone who believes in holding hands and listening to people when they need to be heard,  I hope this podcast can helps us share in other people’s challenges – and overcome ours.”

London-based Samrah is also the singer and songwriter of the series’ spellbinding original song, Nazrein mila ke dekhein (Let’s look in the eye), which brings together and punctuates the conversations with its gentle tune and lyrics.  The mixing and the soundtrack has been delivered by Saad Sultan in Pakistan, as a result of collaboration, via Zoom, between Samrah at the BBC’s London studios and Saad in a studio in Lahore.

Commenting on the issues discussed, Samrah adds: “It’s been 75 years since India and Pakistan became two separate countries. But the emotional and cultural issues, due to not sharing and dealing with pain alone, are still common on both sides of the border.  With Drama Queen, we have brought up these common issues – to introduce ourselves to each other with the idea of sharing and caring.”

In each of the half-hour episodes, Samrah talks to men and women who refuse to keep to themselves their dealings with societal challenges:

Episode 1: Are you sure your mother is okay?

Several studies across the world suggest that nearly half the stay-at-home mothers are struggling silently with depression. Lack of acknowledgement, support and emotional validation keeps affecting them for years.  Complaining is often not an option for a mother lest she is called a “drama queen”.  Have we, even as adults, ever asked if our mothers are struggling too?

Episode 2: I hate being a man

Masculinity is routinely associated with power, authority and control – but how do men cope with those expectations?  Samrah’s guests discuss the pressures, the responsibilities and the loneliness that are brought into men’s lives through the concepts of masculinity conventional in Asian societies.

Episode 3: Looking for a “good girl” to marry

Can a girl with ambitions and  successful professional career also be a “good homemaker”? Why are so many young professional women subjected to unfair judgement and why do such pressures force so many to choose “traditional”, “conventional” women’s careers.

Episode 4: “A divorced daughter is better than a dead one”

In India and Pakistan thousands of women suffering domestic abuse commit suicide every year. The fear of being stigmatised as a divorcee forces women in abusive marriages to continue suffering. Beneath all the layers, Samrah reveals the effects of this endured struggle on the mental health and wellbeing of the women who don’t get support – and discusses their options.

Episode 5: Boys in pink pyjamas

Samrah questions gender stereotypes and seeks explanations as to why it is important to raise children free from such preconceptions. She speaks to mums who are trying to do just that and who initiate conversations and workshops in schools.

Watch the series trailers in Hindi and in Urdu.

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