Close on the heels of Indian male chauvinism’s ‘golden moment’ in declaring Anushka Sharma as the ‘evil temptress’ and holding her responsible for Team India’s defeat at the hands of Australia in the Cricket World Cup semi-final match follows the ‘powerful’ video featuring Deepika Padukone, in which she boldly shows off her bra and openly declares her choices as “her fingerprints”.
First things first, I am totally intrigued by the way Deepika is becoming the spokesperson for everything and anything in Bollywood and in general. Be it her stand against the Times Of India in the cleavage controversy or her confession of battling depression, she has been coming out more openly in public. She deserves to be where she is, and I “declare” I love her. But yes, what surprises me is every movement related to women emancipation and empowerment is coming to be centered around Deepika.
Watch the video here:
This video is directed by Homi Adajania and produced by Dinesh Vijan and no wonder it features Adajania’s muse Deepika. This is also one of the primary reasons why the video has gone viral in no time.
Based on a piece written by Kersi Khambatta, the video is a montage of 99 women from all over India posing infront of the camera as Deepika’s voiceover narrates lines. Apart from her, the video also features actress Nimrat Kaur, filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s wife and film critic Anupama Chopra and Farhan Akhtar’s wife and hair stylist Adhuna Akhtar.
Deepika’s voice is stoic, strong and the lines impactful; the video powerful, no doubts about that. There are bold statements made and bolder graphics shown.
Deepika calls for a change in the “caged” mindset of men about women and asking them to stop judging the fairer sex for their choices of clothes, profession and life. And I appreciate that. At the time of filing this article, the video has clocked about 18 million views on YouTube. But what now?
I remember, when Deepika spoke on national television about her depression for the first time, the only reactions she garnered from people I spoke with were “isey kis baat ka depression yaar?”, “acting kar rahi hai kya?” and the likes. So, is the video destined to meet a similar fate?
Time and again, similar campaigns have been launched to propel us, the Indians, towards a change in the mindset towards women. This is not the first one. And Deepika is not the first one to endorse such a campaign. Earlier videos featured Madhuri Dixit and Alia Bhatt. The reasons this video has clicked are manifold. We call it the “4 Ds”.
-Deepika Padukone sells and how. She rules Bollywood and hearts.
-Deepika’s Dimpled Smile. Anybody can fall for it.
-Depression story. Deepika’s depression was a revelation, not in effect of that it happened to her, but because it can happen to anybody.
-Deluge of women empowerment stories, be it ‘Queen’, ‘Mary Kom’ or ‘Mardaani’.
But, beyond the marketing dynamics lies the grim reality. The video is a glamourised version of the many campaigns going on in India. Change this, change that and we’re here to bat. It has Deepika, it will click. It even has some other known faces, but not that well known. For once, we like that. But what about the many other “women”, who are unknown, the unsung heroes of the family?
The video talks of women who can make, break and follow their own choices and that constitutes (voila!) about 30 per cent of Indian women. Rest of the womenfolk are cowed down by family pressure, parental pressure and guess what, their own emotional pressure. And fingerprints vanish.
“It’s my choice to be a size zero, or a size fifteen. They don’t have a size for my spirit,” says the voiceover done by Deepika. We wonder who is the “they”? And we are happy to see, it HAS ALWAYS BEEN women’s “choice” to lose or gain weight, for last we remember, even Kareena Kapoor became “size zero” because “she” wanted to.
“My choice… to marry, or not to marry. To have sex before marriage. To have sex outside of marriage. To not have sex.” And we must say, the choice is of the MEN too; to marry, not to marry, to have sex before marriage, to have sex outside of marriage, to not have sex. Or to love temporarily or to lust forever. Equality is all about putting the men and women on the same pedestal, right? So yeah, if a man wants to have sex outside marriage, we’ll let him. No calling him names then.
The one part I really liked – the bindi on my forehead, the ring on my finger, adding your surname to mine, they are ornaments. They can be replaced, my love for you can not. Word.
A few glimpses of the “common woman” don’t do any good to the video, because the struggles she faces in her daily life go beyond the “choices” she has to make; the struggle is not about whether she wants to have sex before or outside the marriage, it is, rather, about whether she wants it to be a question after all. This reminds me of something Anushka Sharma said in her ‘NH10’ press conference – “We don’t call other movies ‘male centric’, why calling ‘NH10’, ‘Queen’ or ‘Mary Kom’ female centric?”
Why does this video, then, sound more like a voice of a woman who has been suppressed for long, and is longing for her voice to be heard? A woman who with all the shackles around her “free spirit” is vying to break free, to rebel against moral norms too? And I thought the voice was of an empowered woman, who despite the tag of being the “weaker sex” is strong and has the ability to stand her own in the world.
Having said that, I do appreciate what the makers and especially Deepika wants to say through this video.
The spirit of womanhood is something which can’t be “caged”, “trapped” or curbed down. We are the rain, not the forest; the snowflake, not the snowfall. We are unique, but then, every individual is. The moment you call me distinct, you make me “not human”. I am human. The moment you celebrate “Women’s day”, you make me “not one of you”, but I am one of you, ONE OF THE THOUSAND TRILLION PEOPLE breathing on this planet. And that’s why I am UNIQUE. Every individual is…
Disclaimer: This is a personal blog. Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal and belong solely to the blog owner and do not represent the views of The Indian Express.