Live reunion on television

BY TERESA REHMAN| IN Media Practice | 20/08/2011
Assamese channel News Live aired an emotional reunion between a mother and her son and daughter after 40 long years. And the story, they claimed, had created television history as it involved three countries
TERESA REHMAN reports on the sequence of events that gave new meaning to reality TV
In Guwahati, the television channels’ battle for TRPs is getting hotter by the day. And it has to as the city airs as many as eight channels catering to the northeastern region. With everyone vying for a pie of the limited revenue from advertisements in a region which is almost out of the corporate radar, they are adopting ingenious means to reach out to the masses. Along with news, views and entertainment is a strong dose of reality shows to spice up the whole television experience.
Recently, in a rather ‘filmi’ style, the channel News Live aired an emotional reunion between a mother and her son and daughter after 40 long years. And the story, they claimed, had created television history as it involved three countries – USA (where the long-lost son resides), India (Assam) where the sister was discovered and of course where the television channel is aired from and Nepal (where the mother was discovered and where they had initially lost each other).
It was a thrilling moment for all viewers as they could see visuals from two different countries on skype apart from the scenes from India. The story began when two officials of Assam police, Rajen Singh and Pranabjyoti Goswami discovered through a facebook friend in Nepal about another friend, Kisan Upadhyay (currently based in Durham, USA). Kisan who is an IT professional based in the USA had been desperately trying to look for his mother. They sought these police officials to look for her as Kisan’s father was also in the Assam police. These police officials managed to track Kisan’s dead father, Indralal Upadhyay, who had been a constable with the Assam police. They tracked a couple who were Indralal’s neighbours. They appeared on TV and gave clues about Kisan’s mother and sister.
Rajen Singh said, “The response to the show has been tremendous. Overnight mine as well as Kisan’s friends list on facebook had increased manifold.” The animated show was hosted by the Managing Editor of the channel Syed Zarir Hussain who acted the Sutradhar. Gradually, Kisan’s poignant tale fell into place. Kisan’s mother had abandoned her children and husband and was last seen in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district. Kisan and his elder sister were taken to Nepal by some relatives. There they had a tough time. Kisan’s sister Maya Devi alias Shannu worked as a domestic maid whereas four-year-old Kisan worked at a hotel and then fell ill and was hospitalized. And for a while he had to even beg on the streets of Kathmandu.
He was then taken to an orphanage and this was the time he had lost touch with his sister as well. Kisan completed his studies from Nepal’s Tribhuvan University and later settled in Durham, USA. But he could not forget his mother, who he had last seen when he was just four years old. The suspense-packed story which ran into several episodes had another aunt and cousin pitching in their bit. And finally Kisan’s elder sister was tracked in Bahadur Tea Estate in Assam’s Tinsukia district.
One episode comprised of the emotional reunion of Kisan with his elder sister. Television audiences watched spell-bound as the brother and sister met online after 40 long years. Kisan had just got up and was preparing breakfast. He said he was excited and highly emotional. He spoke to his sister in Nepalese and he addressed her as ‘Didi’. Their maternal aunt was there in the studio to testify that she was indeed the long-lost sister. Maya Devi asked her brother, “Show me the dimple on your cheek.” And he did!
The host Hussain asked Maya Devi if she had any doubts if Kisan was her brother. Maya said she was convinced that he was indeed her long-lost brother. And she narrated the traumatic times they had faced in Nepal after their mother had left them. “Its God’s wish. I can’t believe it. I quietly prayed for him all these years though I never physically tried to search for him.” She did say that her mother came to meet her some 25 years back after she had got married. She said her mother’s name is Umoti Devi.
Things unfolded dramatically and Umoti Devi was discovered in the next episode at a remote place in Nepal. She was being brought back by one of their correspondents to Kathmandu. Then it was the grand moment – a triangular reunion between the mother, son and daughter. Maya, when asked to express her feelings said, “It will be the happiest moment of my life. My children always asked about their grandmother and uncle. Now they will see them live.” Maya also added, “I met my mother some 25 years back. So I distinctly remember her face. I am confident that I will recognize her.”Then came the rather blurred image of Umoti Devi on screen live from Kathmandu due to the low bandwidth. Umoti was seen wiping her tears and the trio spoke to each other. Umoti says, “How can I forget the face of my own son and daughter? I want to be close to my son. I had tried to look for him on several occasions. Now I want to go with him.”
She also narrated why she left them. Her husband Indralal had two wives earlier and she could not tolerate this fact. Then Umoti got to see her daughter-in-law Pam online. Kisan promised to get his visa and paperwork done as soon as possible and come to meet his mother and sister. Thus ended the seven-day saga on television which Kisan described as a ‘fairytale ending’ and a ‘movie coming to life’. Thanks to technology, facebook and reality television!
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