For something that lasts just two-and-a-half minutes, My Choice, a video featuring Deepika Padukone among other women, has triggered a storm of opinions for and against the “choices” voiced for women.
At first glance, the video looks like a mix of good filmmaking, feminism (if you want to call it that!) and an issue that should have been brought into the mainstream long ago. As the video went viral, immediate reactions ranged from complete rejection to proud acceptance.
Let’s not count the ones that dwelt on the free-flying tresses, bindis and unhooked bra straps of the women, mostly celebrities, who featured in the video directed by Homi Adajania.
The use of a celebrity such as Deepika may have given the video an obvious appeal (and what's wrong with that?), but if one listens to what she’s saying – regardless of who she is, what’s the name of hairdresser or how many boyfriends she’s had – this is all about standing up to issues women have faced for generations, not only in India but elsewhere too.
And let’s face it, when celebs speak, people listen and better still, think.
Let’s not forget that Deepika is a top-grossing actress who has publicly confessed her struggle with depression, and was defended by many when her cleavage made national news. And the video is not about her, so dismissing it as a celeb show scripted by a fashion magazine seems a very superficial approach of looking at it.
As the narrative comes to a married woman’s “choice” to sleep with some other man, the reactions came shouting out from the hearts that were rattled with the thought of a woman voicing something so powerful in their face. So much so, that a male version of the video soon followed - you have to see it to rehash the definition of hypocrisy and intimidation.
The counterpoints were mainly confined to deconstructing the video for its look (shampoo ad?), feel (too urban to care) and purpose (who cares if someone is trying to say something which has reached out to millions?).
Dig deeper folks! 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”.
As I read the reactions, I realised people need to make space for counterpoints and hear fresh takes so that they can junk their old ways of thinking, especially when it comes to everyone's favourite yet top secret topic: sex.
For me, 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.
And for the ones who claim to be comfortably aware of their choices, the video should come as a reminder and not an intimidation or a lol-moment.
Even the recent controversial documentary on the December 16 gang-rape may not have made a ‘made a difference’ but it did manage to throw light on the demons inside a rapist’s mind, a government trying to shield people from the harsh truth and the extent to which people can go to.
Before trying to judge the message in “My Choice” as black, white or a scripted farce in the garb of empowerment, make sure you do not turn your back on a proud generation of women living with the shades of grey, fully aware of their infinite choices.