Pregnant Ratna, pallu on head and bedecked in Karwa Chauth finery, gulps and sways. “Woh nahi aayenge,” she says in a thin voice, before her eyes roll back and she’s carried away by her mother-in-law. The moon has been out for ages, you see, and Ratna’s alcoholic husband hasn’t returned so she can break her fast, because he’s out wasting money on liquor. The doctor arrives, tells Ratna her body’s been ravaged by four closely-spaced pregnancies, and then berates her for fasting when pregnant.
This is just the first episode of Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon (MKBKSH), an “edutainment” show that airs on Doordarshan. With a viewership of over 400 million, it’s the most widely watched show on Indian television. MKBKSH is the Population Foundation of India’s brainchild, and addresses issues around sexual health, education and rights. It’s been dubbed in 11 languages, broadcast on All India Radio and airs in over 50 countries.