BENGALURU: Two Bengalureans, Radhika Viswanathan and Samyuktha Varma, are on a mission to give the women of the city a voice. And they aim to do so with their upcoming podcast, City of Women, a series that will look at how Bengaluru’s women navigate their working lives and the city. Slated to tentatively release by Women’s Day next year, the 10-part series is currently in its production stage and has been seed-funded by the Google Podcasts creator programme.
The initiative was held in association with a non-profit company, PRX Official, and saw Viswanathan and Varma as the only Indians to become a part of a six-team cohort that got a chance to take part in a 20-week training programme while also receiving close to Rs 28 lakh.
The two women wanted to pay an ode to women in Bengaluru, by exploring issues through storytelling. “It’s about being on the street and experiencing it with the character you meet on the episode,” explains Varma, who along with Viswanathan, Menaka Raman and Sahana Jose form the team behind Vaaka Podcasts.
While news about blatant misogyny is all around us through news of rape and murder, these women hoped to shed some light on the casual misogyny faced as well. And though featuring the women of this city – from different backgrounds, ages and professions – their stories could be one that is felt by anyone in the country. “Think about all the preparation a woman goes through before stepping out of home. She pays attention to the outfit she’s wearing, her mode of transport, the potential disasters she could face enroute, etc. All these form the subject matter. It’s about the things we do in order to do the things we want to do,” adds Varma.
And they want these stories to be as immersive as possible, even going to the extent of taking almost a month to produce a 35-40 minute long episode. To begin with, they conduct 4-5 sessions with the subject of the episode, acquiring audio footage that sometimes runs into seven hours. This is followed by the process of transcribing, doing a long edit, shortening it, scripting and adding layers of sound to the episode.
“The most exciting part of the process is adding the sound,” says Viswanathan, adding that they are also working with a sound producer for this. “Each episode has its own unique composition, which the producer will make based on the women we interview and her experience on the streets,” she says.
This isn’t the first podcast the women will produce. Previously, they have worked on a show called In The Field, which looked at the country’s development story, and Sea Change, which talks about societal change in the digital age. With their extensive experience, it is with conviction that Varma calls podcasting the best storytelling medium. “There’s nothing more convincing than hearing a person’s voice to know what they are driven by, their passion and what they are learning,” Varma says.