A BIG idea was floating around in the UNFPA corridors…. all it needed was a screenwriter, experienced director, talented actors & crew to make it work! Let me tell you how this blockbuster was produced, directed and before you could say ‘roll sound’ Pravah had a huge hit on its hands!!!

Pre-Production: UNFPA had the storyboard ready to develop the five-year country plan for National Adolescent Health Strategy and the country strategy (2013-2017). They invited Pravah (the youth-expert screenwriters!) to help them understand the needs of the vulnerable youth of India and develop the story line. This genre, a participative consultation, would provide the ‘masala’ of young people’s needs and concerns, identify gaps in existing national policies, programmes and the provisions in the ICPD and offer creative recommendations to diverse stakeholders to respond to their concerns.

A core team was formed to make this production effective. It comprised of the Director-Meenu, Scriptwriter- Purna, Makeup Artist- Neha S and Executive Assistant Faiza to aid the process. When the green light was flagged there came the bunch of actors – Neha Buch, Ishani, Nirupama, Shraddha and Sulab to bring it alive. The shooting dates were fixed – November 1-3, 2012 and we had less than two months to make this happen.

The Shoot: Thus began the most interesting part – tring tring tring…We started calling people from different organizations to nominate participants. And then more tring tring tring… calling nominated participants to know more about them. The design team was having fun and burning the midnight oil. The participants list was finally ready! Was the design version final? Was the venue booked? Are the kit bags ready? Where’s the stationary! Oh the Skype call failed, would a con call work? All the pre-production work was done and the final day arrived.

The Cast: Youth from many states of India reached Vishwa Yuva Kendra to be part of the National Youth Consultation. What a beautiful sight it was! The stage was packed with officials from UNFPA and Pravah facilitators. The most amazing part was watching the heroes and heroines – the mixed group of youth intensely and productively engaged by the facilitators! On day one they were trying to map their world and identify their needs. With energizers happening and good food to pump their energy, a lot of work happened happily. Each actor gave a byte for the movie -“What do you need to lead a healthy life?”

Soon day two began, the participants tried to match their needs to available facilities. A working group consisting of volunteers from both the participants’ and the facilitators’ groups worked through the night to present a charter of needs to the invited guests from various ministries, UN agencies and NGOs. While this team was working the others decided to have a cultural night showcasing dance forms from the many states and regional songs. It was a great experience for all to bond with each other at an informal level.


What Youth Need

What they Recommend

Life skills : self awareness, leadership, negotiation, communication, ability to learn, decision making, dealing with failure, inspire and influence others, and ability to create true relationships and support systems, conflict resolution skills

Universalization of life skills education for all adolescents in educational institutions (government and private, open schools) and out of school.

Health: Knowledge regarding reproductive health and access to facilities – consensual sex, safe sex, contraception, abortion,family planning, early marriage, pregnancy…


  • Implementation & universal coverage of sanitary napkin distribution.
  • ASHA like worker to work with boys and young men and have regular meetings with young people twice a month.

Education: Quality and accessible/ affordable education for all that is connected to the real world


  • Comprehensive sex education and life skills to be universalized.
  • Quality education and vocational training with placement to ensure employment


Safe Open Spaces: Creation of an inclusive, non-judgemental  space – Platform for open sharing, fun and problem solving


  • Initiate youth clubs across the country as safe and open spaces for fun and learning and capacity building for both boys and girls. Allow young people to take responsibility for changes they want to see. (social development agenda)
  • Support to youth clubs for formation and effective functioning ( a clearer agenda,capacity building, mentorship)        

Support Group: Need for an informed, knowledgeable support group – parents, teachers, peer group, counsellors, doctors.


  • Counseling centre for holistic needs including education, health and well being and access to stress and trauma counseling services.
  • Sensitized and knowledgeable and youth friendly service providers
  • Sensitization and training of parents and community.



The Movie Release: Day three saw the key deliberations of the last two days being presented to all. The significant needs that emerged from talking to the youth were in areas of life skills, health, education, support systems and safe open spaces for learning & fun. The participants’ day was not complete without a Delhi Darshan. No one realized when it all started and when it came to an end, surely it was a job done well. The production and direction of this picture story was a challenge well accepted and well executed.

The UNFPA & Pravah banner had delivered a hit!!!

Neha Swain


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