"My body, my mind, my choice," says Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, in a short film called My Choice. The video was released amidst news reports of rape, sexual assault, and countless other crimes against women, as part of Vogue India’s social awareness initiative #VogueEmpower.
Directed by Homi Adajania and written by Kersi Khambatta, the poetic video features 99 successful women — including director Adhuna Akhtar, Bollywood critic Anupama Chopra, model and lawyer Scherezade Shroff, and Homeland actress Nimrat Kaur, all dressed in black. So far, it has been viewed over 3.8 million times.
The black-and-white video stars the 29-year-old Padukone, who calls for a change in people's "caged" mindset about women, demanding they stop judging women for their choices in regards to partners, careers, procreation, clothes, and even the time they choose to come home at night.
Here's an excerpt:
To marry, or not to marry
To have sex before marriage, to have sex out of marriage, or to not have sex
To love temporarily, or to lust forever
To love a man, or a woman, or both
Remember; you are my choice, I’m not your privilege
The bindi on my forehead, the ring on my finger, adding your surname to mine, they’re all ornaments and can be replaced
The message of the film is clear: Women, worldwide, need to use their voices — not only to enforce their rights — but to encourage other women to use theirs as well.
But while many people in the Twitterverse are praising Padukone for standing up for womenkind, plenty of others have been criticizing the "hypocrisy" of having this initiative led by the fashion and Bollywood industries — which, they argue, fetishize, objectify and reinforce sexist standards of beauty.
Then, there are those who believe that the message of the video is, in a sense, arrogant. They argue that, while it is necessary to address the "narrow and caged" mindset of society and remind women of their rights, a balance must be maintained. All of these "empowered" women in the video talk about choices that can only be made by well-off women. While coming home "at 4am" might be possible for women in urban India, there are still women living in villages and tribes who would likely face violent, if not fatal, consequences for this type of action.
Regardless of its inherent flaws, the video is still encouraging. These women are trying to give voices to those who can't speak out. And that's something. That's progress, at least.
Watch the video below, and let us know what you think:
(h/t Times of India)
Screengrab via VOGUE India/YouTube