When television host Mini Mathur realised that she was not as connected with her daughter Sairah (a “second rider in a shared cab”, in her words) as she was with her first-born son, she decided to go on a 25-day trip through Europe with Sairah and film it with her own money.
Mini Me, starring Mathur and her seven-year-old daughter Sairah, is a mother-daughter travelogue that will be aired on TLC India from March 9. The idea was to understand Sairah better, and, in the process, create female-driven content, Mathur told Scroll.in.
Mathur shot the travelogue in June 2017, without a narrative or sponsorship. After filming was completed, the show was picked up TLC India. “In today’s day and age you need to be relatable to your children,” Mathur said. “I also took an all-woman’s crew for filming because I did not want to intimidate her [Sairah] and wanted everything to be organic. That is why I didn’t pre-sell the show and neither was the show pre-commissioned. I wanted to fund it and come back and see what the narrative would be. I produced it all on my own. So what you see is what happened. We did not say anything we did not want to because we weren’t sponsored.”
The show will see the duo travel across Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Montenegro, Croatia and Spain. The trip had only two rules: no itinerary and no touristy locale that needed a ticket or a queue, Mathur added. “In Italy, we spent a couple of days with an old couple in a vineyard,” she recalled. “They taught us wine traditions, making wine and pasta. In Naples, we visited the oldest pizzeria in the city and graded the different cheese in the restaurants. We really came back looking at each other with new eyes.”
But the show is more than just exotic locations, Mathur added. “It is about the experiences,” she said. “There is this perception that if you are travelling with your kids, you would only be going to Disneyland and theme parks. That is not travel with children. Travel teaches you much more. I wanted to change the narrative of how parents look at travelling with children. Parents don’t have to gear up for a toddler war.”
Mathur takes pride in the face that Mini Me explores the bond between a mother and daughter. “Everything for women is changing and I think the entertainment narrative needs to change as well,” the television host said. “It’s okay to talk about women’s rights and equality. But till our entertainment doesn’t really reflect it, it is never going to permeate through the layers. I just felt that this was something we had to do.”
But how did seven-year-old Sairah react to the limelight? Surprisingly well, Mathur revealed. “She was a real trouper, I must say,” Mathur said. “I told her that we would go at her pace and that we would not do things if she did not want to. But she was game. Thankfully, she was not conscious of the camera. I have kept her away from the promotions. She doesn’t care about it. She just had a great time. It is nice to retain your innocence.”