The atmosphere at the Lalkaar concert held at the Bandra amphitheatre in Mumbai on Tuesday evening was electric as Shahrukh Khan, the Badshah of Bollywood, walked on to the stage and charmed his audience with ease.
“I believe that women are superior to men on many levels and I am unashamed to admit that I am a little shy and scared of women whether she is my mother, wife, sister or friend. Women have more patience. Real strength is when people can have a sense of quietude and calm around them and I believe women bring that to this world,” Shahrukh said, bringing the house down.
Organised by Farhan Akhtar’s MARD (Men Against Rape and Discrimination), director Feroz Abbas Khan, and Population Foundation of India (PFI) with the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to end violence against women and girls, Lalkaar was attended by close to 2000 people on ground; the show was also streamed live on Facebook garnering 106,000 views and shared more than several hundred times across social media platforms. It trended at the top two spots on Twitter for close to six hours.
If this was not an overwhelming show of support to end violence against women and girls in our country then consider the growing number of celebrities, 79 and counting, who support the cause and are committed to ending discrimination against women in any form.
At some point over the course of the evening, the venue was converted to an intimate space where people from all walks of life come together with one voice, focused on putting an end to the violence that women and girls suffer every day. It was heartening to see reel heroes and real heroes stand shoulder to shoulder, both in awe of each other. It became a place where film actors and their larger-than-life personalities joined hands with everyday heroes like Ladkuwar Khushwaha who had to fight the oppressions of both caste and gender to be able to go to college.
Khushwaha did not cower even in the face of threats and went on to inspire more than a dozen girls to fight for their right to an education.
Lalkaar was attended by Hindi film actors, singers, musicians, activists and young men and women and featured performances by Farhan Akhtar, Papon, Armaan Malik, Harshdeep Kaur, Salim and Suleiman and Sukriti-Prakriti. Akhtar, who represented both the film industry as well as MARD, reminded us of all the times we have looked away from incidents of domestic violence, or of the times we have ignored episodes of eve-teasing.
“Remind yourselves of all the little acts of injustice and discrimination that women encounter daily. Ask yourselves why 3,30,000 girl children are lost every year due to sex-selective abortions or why our sex ratio is down to 900 girls for every 1000 boys,” Farhan said.
These are some of the questions that brought us to the campaign that was launched earlier this year on May 30 and has continued over nine months through the Bas Ab Bahut Ho Gaya – Enough Is Enough campaign. Our efforts were anchored by the declaration of #BasAbBahutHoGaya #EnoughIsEnough that rang through college campuses across India. The campaign is also a pilot on celebrity endorsed behaviour change and, therefore, mobilised the support of actors, artistes and sportspersons. This included the release of two short films, one which featured Vidya Balan and reached close to eight million people and another which featured Sania Mirza and reached more than two million people. The concert, however, is not the culmination of this campaign but merely the beginning of the change that is going to unfold.
Women and girls have been fighting against all forms of violence for years and will continue the resistance as planned. But now the time has come for men to join them as allies. In fact, through this campaign we want to convert male dominance to male engagement, so that men will stand alongside women in the fight for equality. We need men to question the meaning of masculinity and to recognise that violence is not significant of strength.
As Shah Rukh Khan said in the lines from a poem penned by Javed Akhtar, “Jisko aurat ke tann mann ka, jeevan ka sammaan hai/Aurat ke aatm-sammaan ka jisko har ik pal dhyaan hai/Jo kabhi ek pal bhi nahin bhoolta, aurat insaan hai… Sach toh ye hai/ Vohi mard hain.”
The one who believes fully in the mind and body of the woman, believes in life/The one who constantly looks out for the self-respect of women/The one who never forgets, even for a second, that a woman is also a human being…Truth is/That is the real man.
We know that this campaign is a drop in the ocean, but it is also a beginning. And we would like all of you, dear readers, to join us in this movement to make India a better and more secure place for all our women.
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