With Australia beating India in the second semi final of ICC World Cup 2015, weekend plans for Indians suddenly came to a standstill. Most of us hoping to see the men in blue in the finals at MCG cricket ground had to settle with cheering the Kiwis. But the Aussies lifted the World Cup and social streams for Indians were empty with no controversy breaking on social media.
Taking a cue, Vogue India, the fashion magazine released a short film on women empowerment – My Choice directed by Homi Adajania and featuring Bollywood’s most bankable actress in recent times, Deepika Padukone.
The two and half minute video for #VogueEmpower – a social awareness initiative on women’s empowerment – also features 98 other women from Mumbai. Titled My Choice, this is the third short film created under the initiative; earlier videos featured Madhuri Dixit and Alia Bhatt.
The hard hitting black and white film is about women living their life with respect in the society while stating their choices with no hesitation and fear. Through the video, Deepika calls for change in the “caged” mindset of men about women and urges them to stop judging the fairer sex for their choices of clothes, profession and life. “It is my choice to live life the way I want, to wear clothes I like, to decide how I want my body to be, when I want to get married or if I ever want to walk down the aisle, to decide if I want to be straight or a lesbian…,” Deepika said to HT.
Backed by influential celebrities and brands like JSW, HT, the video hit the right chords with its digital launch. With India banning India’s Daughter video last month, the video had the perfect recipe and timing to go viral along with Deepika who is known to stand for injustice against women. The video performed as expected and with Bollywood A-stars supporting the video and Deepika’s courage, the video became the hottest topic to be discussed on social media. A much needed topic to keep the conversations alive on social media.
Facebook timelines were jammed with people sharing the video and nodding their head while sitting online and supporting women empowerment. Twitter saw the same reactions too.
— Anaita Adajania (@Anaita_Adajania) March 28, 2015
T 1815 – Homi Adajania makes a pertinent 2 min film ‘My Choice’ .. http://t.co/SUJowJG8Vw .. Women Empowerment .. !!
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) March 28, 2015
This continued for a day or two making the producers of the video happy; the trick had worked once again. Trick? Yes all was fine till the time netizens were deceived by the fact that the video release was also a part of the marketing stunt for Deepika Padukone’s upcoming star studded Bollywood release, Piku.
The yet to be released film, showcases Deepika as a successful architect and being a single parent to her 70-year old father. Don’t you see the similarity between the theme of #MyChoice video and the upcoming movie Piku?
The digital world was quick to identify this similarity; all social media streams are behaving the opposite since yesterday. Till two days back the video that was being called bold, is now being labelled as the video that isn’t about women empowerment at all. Vogue India, Deepika Padukone are at the receiving end from social media.
The online media portals are churning out articles that are focusing on how Vogue India and Deepika are fooling netizens in the name of women empowerment.
Quartz calls the video as hypocritical – “The basic problem with the likes of Vogue and Padukone appropriating women’s rights is that, they do nothing for women. They talk about the prerogative of choice, but they don’t explain the burden of those choices. They talk about empowerment when they are themselves slave to consumerism.”
Scroll thinks that Deepika has got it all wrong – “The things the Vogue India video fails to show are as important as the statements it chooses to make. For instance, it fails to acknowledge the institutionalised wage inequality between men and women, that the glass ceiling is a reality, that class and caste play a vital role in determining opportunities in India. It evades questions about the division of labour in homes, where women are conditioned to take responsibility for domestic chores.”
Post the articles bashing the video, in came the parody videos. My Choice – male version was uploaded yesterday and as of now has more than 329K views. The video has clicked on social media because of the response time and the message that it ends with – Respect Women and Men.
Besides Twitter has seen #MyChoice trending since yesterday, conversations remain divided but one quick glance at the hashtag tells you that the pointer has moved from positive to negative.
— Jyoti Sharma Bawa (@JSB17) March 31, 2015
#MyChoice would be to zero base rules and procedures- Unless there is a real reason to keep something let the guillotine fall on it !
— Mohit Yadav, IFS (@mohitfreedom) March 31, 2015
— Deepika Bhardwaj (@DeepikaBhardwaj) March 31, 2015
Dear women (and men), having extramarital affair is NOT empowerment. It’s a weak person who cheats and hurts the loved ones. #MyChoice
— Yashasvi (@rsyashasvi) March 30, 2015
— shahid siddiqui (@shahid_siddiqui) March 30, 2015
So does it mean that Vogue India and Deepika Padukone’s attempt to raffle the nerves of women empowerment has failed? No! Love or hate the video, #MyChoice has been able to open the gates of conversation. The video on YouTube as of now has been able to generate 3 million views in a matter of four days (this doesn’t include the views the video has gained by Facebook and Twitter shares).
Believe it or not, once again the Digital PR of Deepika has won the game. One might argue that the last two days of publicity have been negative but in this digital world when everything is measured in views, Vogue India won’t mind the negative backlash as it might say that the effort was worth it for #VogueEmpower (interesting to note that Vogue has removed the article #MyChoice from its website) and as for Deepika, India is already aware of Piku before the movie promotions take off.
In fact last time Deepika made more headlines for her Twitter outrage against Times of India, than for her performance in the comedy film ‘Finding Fanny’. During this controversy Deepika’s digital PR team leveraged social media brilliantly to shame TOI for its article that had a headline: “OMG: Deepika’s Cleavage Show!”
Deepika’s Digital PR team has won the #MyChoice controversy yet again!