Colors Tamil’s Kodeeswari: Giving wings to women’s ‘small dreams’
With the focus on empowering women, Kodeeswari has become a show that inspires women to chase their own ambitions
When the first episode of Kodeeswari – the Tamil adaptation of the globally-popular television game show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and its Hindi counterpart Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) – went on air on Colors Tamil on December 23, it made television history. Because for the first time in the format’s history, it was an all-woman quiz show. Everyone from the host to the participants were women.
The insight that women always place the needs of their family above theirs led Colors Tamil to draft a thoughtful and fitting phrase for Kodeeswari: “Siragadikkattum Chinna Chinna Kanavugal,” (Give wings to small dreams).
In keeping with this thought, in the show, women are often asked about the dreams they want to achieve for themselves and not for their families.
Recounting how she got involved with the show actor and producer, Radikaa Sarathkumar says: “When Anup Chandrasekaran (Business Head, Colors Tamil) approached me for the show saying that Kodeeswari was going to be just for women, it got me excited because it had not been done before. Also, a female host seemed very appealing because it connects to a lot of women. Kodeeswari is about empowering women and this made the show different and new. There are a lot of stories, which need to be told and this show has helped bring them out.”
For Sarathkumar, who has a big repertoire of acting work spanning over four decades, Kodeeswari has been a complete learning curve. She says, “I've never hosted such a show. I am also learning a lot from the strong women that I have met on the show and get to share the platform with. I keep rooting for most of them and want them to feel great about themselves. The women to women touch have worked majorly. The contestants are more comfortable communicating about themselves and realizing their dreams in spite of so many factors pulling them down.”
She continues, “Here, I had to bring my real self to the front and it’s a lot of work because when you see a crowd or any camera, you automatically become very cautious and conscious about what you say. In Kodeeswari, I had a no holds barred approach. It was just me interacting and making sure that I connect with people. I am talking to the contestants as I am and communicating and voicing my innermost thoughts.”
Sarathkumar is excited and encouraged by the response that the show has generated from the audience even in the small cities, towns and villages.
On a personal note, Sarathkumar recounts her experience of meeting the most inspiring contestant, S. Sushmitha, a young 23-year-old contestant from Dharmapuri. Hailing from a poor family, she had to give up on her dream to become an IAS officer.
After her father suffered a stroke, she had to abandon her UPSC preparations and take up a job as a cashier at a wheat mill. It paid her a measly monthly salary of just Rs 9,000.
On the hot seat, she spoke only about her family – her sister, father and mother – and her ambition of becoming an IAS officer. Sarathkumar was particularly moved by the fact that Sushmitha never spoke about her eye problem. She could only see with her left eye and her right eye had to be operated upon. Unfortunately, Sushmitha could only win Rs 10,000.
On a final note, when asked whether she would return if the show was renewed for a second season, the answer from Sarathkumar was a definite yes!
The Contestant’s Take
It has been a life-changing experience for the women who have participated in the show. For some like Mahalaksmi, Kodeeswari was a game-changer.
She said, “I must confess that I never got enough opportunities to pursue my dreams in life. So I was delighted when I got the chance to participate in Kodeeswari. It is not about the money at all, even though I am thrilled to take home some. The more important thing, however, was to prove that if we women are confident, we can achieve anything in life. I am extremely grateful to Colors Tamil for giving me this opportunity and making it the most memorable day of my life”.
For Easwari, Kodeeswari was an opportunity to be an inspiration to the younger girls in her community. She says: “I have faced several challenges in my life, but each of them has only given me strength. I look at my entry into Kodeeswari against the odds as one such instance. This is without a doubt the biggest achievement of my life so far. Being the first woman graduate from my community, I want to be an inspiration for every girl and am keen to improve education standards so that girls attend school. My ultimate goal is to win the Community Certificate (nomads) and I must thank Colors Tamil for this, as it has been my greatest support and has given us all a ray of hope”
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