Nice Hair, Deepika ! My Choice…Your Choice…

(This piece was published in Star of Mysore on April 7, 2015)

27, 80, 00,000 web views, 7,715,075 YouTube hits in just a few hours and still counting. For sure, producer Homi Adjania is a happy man. Irrespective of whether you are a social media addict or not, in all probability, you have watched the video or at least heard about this 2.34 minute Deepika Padukone’s My Choice Documentary video supposedly on women empowerment. No issues, if you haven’t yet watched it, it should be ‘Your Choice’ to watch it or not to watch it.

Though well intentioned, this Vogue video has backfired. Let us look at it from three aspects. If the objective is to empower, it has failed miserably. The video is a misdirected attempt to empower women. Instead of portraying a strong woman, it portrays an arrogant one who cares a damn about anyone or anything. It fails to connect. Picturized on 99 women from different walks of life, it is a video by the elite class but it is not meant even for the elite. Does feminism mean exposing a bra strap or declaring from roof top that it is okay to have sex outside marriage? Does that empower women in any way? We know it very well, Feminism is not about superiority rather it is about equality of genders.

No one is denying that it should be a woman’s personal choice to live life in the manner that she wants to. The same way, it is a man’s choice to live life at his own terms. Visualize this video picturized on any of the Khans or Bollywood heartthrobs and it is bound to look comic. And the reaction of any forward thinking woman or a true feminist would be ‘Man, Get lost! If you think, it’s only your choice!’

I can still recall the video on India ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ first telecasted in 1988. The concept for Mile Sur was developed by Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad and promoted by Doordarshan (then India’s sole TV broadcaster) and India‘s Ministry of Information. The song was composed by Ashok Patki and arranged by Louis Banks, with lyrics by Piyush Pandey (then an Account Manager of Ogilvy and Mather, India). It was recorded by people from all walks of life, including a group of Indian celebrities—musicians, sports persons, movie stars, etc. The national integration video was intended to instill a sense of pride and promote unity amongst Indians, highlighting India’s different linguistic communities and societies. That is one documentary film which has stayed in people’s mind. The lyrics are still hummed by many.  Even now when I watch it, it gives me goosebumps.

Coming back to the video, the second aspect is visuals. The video fails to impress even visually. Leave the objective aside, the video could have been made more appealing both visually and emotionally. For sure, the script writer and lyricist could have found more powerful words to empower women. If this is a part of PR strategy to promote Deepika’s upcoming film Piku, then this video was unnecessary. Her confession about her depression won her respect from contemporaries; she genuinely won many hearts. As far as her popularity is concerned, this video is regressive.

I do wonder about the entire process of working on this documentary film. Before working on a project like this, didn’t the team have a brain storming session on what works and what doesn’t and didn’t the producer have a dry run to know the response?

If this was indeed a part of promotion strategy of Deepika’s new film Piku then this video gets full marks. It served its purpose. If you haven’t watched the video until now, you would surely want to watch it after reading this piece. So producer earns another penny. As someone rightly said, there is no better publicity than negative publicity.

The third aspect is the response from the society or its absence. Deepika needn’t bother about public outrage or the little damage that it has done to her sweet girl image. Public’s memory is very short. It was just yesterday when India’s Daughter video went viral. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on it. Another news comes, the previous one is forgotten. Move on, it is time to make place for the next one. Is anyone really bother about the cause or the purpose it serves or fails to serve or the larger impact on society?

My Choice video doesn’t move you at all in any way. It falls flat just like Deepika’s monotone voice. In the end, the only image that stays in your mind is of Deepika’s lovely tresses blown by wind machine. Nice Hair, Deepika!

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