Before August 2016, India hardly knew Sakshi Malik. The 23-year-old hailing from Rohtak scripted history during the 2016 Rio Olympics by becoming the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal. Besides she is also the fourth female athlete from the country to climb onto the podium at the biggest sporting event in the world.
A sport that has always been for boys, Sakshi had to face stiff challenges from the society and people. But with the help of her ardent family support, her coach and her never-say-die attitude, she has given a tough fight.
Today Sakshi is an inspiration to this generation and especially to all those girls who want to break the shackles of the patriarchal society and go ahead. Talking to Vogue she informs: “In the last few months, more than a hundred girls have joined wrestling in my Rohtak village.”
Brands have taken notice of her too. German sports brand PUMA has already roped her in for the India leg of its global women centric campaign #DoYou. “Wrestling is my strength. Wrestling is my identity. Find your passion. Do You,” says the confident Sakshi in the campaign video:
Launched on International Girl Child Day, her story is in the good company of video stories from other well-known women influencers like Jacqueline Fernandez, Lisa Haydon, Nidhi Mohan, Kalki Koechlin, and many more. There are 7 such video stories with the message #DoYou, all launched on the YouTube page of Blush.
Blush, managed by Culture Machine was launched a year ago as one of the many properties on YouTube. The original idea was to create a brand for the women of today, informed Vatsala Patel, Channel Director, Blush – Culture Machine. “The brand over a period has evolved into a distinct voice of the women and for the women. Women are taking giant leaps and baby steps toward changing their lives and their communities and we are the platform showcasing both.”
As of now the channel has been focusing on two major storytelling series – 1. Unblushed, and 2. Blush Originals. “We want to tell stories of real women. The story can come from anywhere; from an actor, making a comment about something they strongly feel about; in process of expressing themselves. Or the story could be of a real person,” adds Vatsala.
As the case would be with the Amitabh Bachchan Unblushed video series #AbSamjhautaNahin. The video with a million views, features Amitabh describing the effect on our words, on our choices, on our decisions and reactions, that women today are a victim of judgment, of gender stereotyping, of subconscious body shaming and moral policing, more so today, than ever. The video also timed well with the actor’s recent movie Pink which deals with a similar subject.
Then there are real stories showcasing what women in our society are going through. The latest story Gudiya, a 13-minute short film done by Blush tells a tale from India’s religious place Varanasi. The story showcases how infants are being abducted, gan-graped and injected with hormonal injections to become commercial sex workers.
“We urge you to raise your voice against this heinous trade. We urge you to save that one girl child, because she deserves to have a future,” says Blush.
“More than a strategy it’s the team’s collective hunger to tell those stories. We want to push boundaries with the stories we tell. We want to engage with everyone out there and start a conversation, a dialogue about everything under the sun that affects women and their lives, which is half of the world. And explore different forms of narrative,” informs Vatsala.
In the last one year the team has really pushed the boundaries in different forms of video story telling. From doing series like Blush Fitness, Scandalous Housewives, Blush Verdicts, among others, the channel is clearly pushing for quality than quantity.
The efforts of video storytelling by Blush have got quite a few brands interested. Earlier Lighthouse Insights had featured how brands had tied up for native content with Culture Machine’s popular youth channel – Being Indian. (Read: How Being Indian YouTube Channel Is Winning Over Millennials)
Similarly brand partnerships have been good for Blush. “Digital is the space where real innovation can happen in terms of storytelling and marketing. It is different from TV in that sense. TV is still very direct, while the collaboration on digital is evolving; focusing more on the ethos of a story/product or an idea,” adds Vatsala while citing the recent brand collaboration for #AbSamjhautaNahin.
Another brand collaboration with Castrol Activ Scooter during the festival of Raksha Bandhan, is worth mentioning. The “Dear Sis…”4-minute long video not only shares a lovely brother and sister story but also makes for an interesting ad. Product placements are no more boring but act as enablers to a story. The video with a million views also has an interesting festival incentive to drive people to its offline store.
Video story telling has been the hottest buzzword of 2016. Culture Machine has grabbed this trend with both hands by delivering quality video content. In the coming days, video story telling is going to see more innovations with the user being at the center focus.
Blush is not going to be left out, it is only going to set a new benchmark for the industry. “In coming weeks of October you will see us pushing the envelope and broadening the spectrum of our play,” informs Vatsala, without revealing much.