My Choice, a video featuring Deepika Padukone in association with Vogue India magazine has triggered a storm.
The video is a mix of good filmmaking that brings feminism into India’s (or world) mainstream. The use of Deepika Padukone, Bollywood’s top grossing actress, has given the video an extraordinary appeal. The video is all about standing up to issues women have faced for generations all over the world.
According to the Homi Adajania, even today women in various quarters of society are told to accept rules, timings, food, clothes, habits, men, hairstyles and even views that are not “their choice”. He states, “This video is an interesting take on women’s empowerment as it is thought-provoking and had evoked a whole gamut of reactions, even from those who didn’t appreciate the video; regardless of what difference that will make to conditions on the ground.”
The main issue is not the message the video is intended to relay. The issue is Deepika Padukone herself. She has publicly confessed her struggle with depression. Furthermore, her cleavage made news in India. Thus the video can’t necessarily be termed as a celebrity show by a fashion magazine. The video is about Deepika Padukone herself. Since Deepika Padukone was one of the people featured prominently in that video, and her public image and her past actions in Bollywood contradict the spirit of the video.
Consider the lines from the video clip, “It is my choice to marry or not to marry… It is my choice to have sex before marriage or have sex outside the marriage…,” . One can argue whether it is woman empowerment or advocating unconventional lifestyle. Needless to say, the video had overwhelming reactions. For many, Deepika is promoting adultery and cheating in the name of women empowerment.
The video does not address equal rights for women, all it does is that it asks for granted rights. It does not address vital issues- infanticide, lack of formal education, human trafficking, domestic violence, forced abortions. But according to the Vogue India’s video, the only problem women face are- sex, sex, sex.
In reality, in her Bollywood elitist circle she does have her choice- what she wears and what she does (including adultery). But any person, man or woman, does not live in a cultural vacuum. In essence, people do, technically, have the freedom to do what they want, as long as it does not enter the realm of physical and logical impossibilities. That does not excuse the action. It just reinforces person’s responsibility for that action.
Then there is the thin line between freedom and selfishness. Freedom is something where your privileges are protected along with people around you. Selfishness is something where your wishes are supreme and others' privileges are violated.
“To love someone temporarily” or “having sex outside marriage” is of course one’s choice. But that choice can’t be branded as a symbol of freedom and empowerment of women. Most importantly, in love or marriage, trust and emotion of another person is also an essential factor. Ironically, “My Choice” may be viewed as advocating “Being Selfish”.
Freedom and empowerment is not something that can be sold through the glossy pages of a magazine. It can only come through experience and self knowledge.
See My Choice, Video by VogueIndia here:
Male version of “My Video” here:
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