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In response to Deepika Padukone- Homi Adajania's "My Choice" (scroll down to read details), there is now a male version of the same floating around :). The video was released on March 30th, within days of Deepika's video release. The concept, script and editing has been done by Ankur Poddar, an aspiring film-maker. Watch it and we'll talk :) ...

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Of course, we expected  a response. Yes, we did envisage a rejoinder. However, got to admit that the riposte is sophisticated, elegant and above all has a streak of humor throughout. This Brat House Films video is exactly what it claims to be, 'a just for fun video. It also states that "we truly respect all women and men"- nice touch there as well.  Lines like "to wear the clothes I like, not dress the way you want", "my neighbor is an engineer, I am not. Let it be" resonates well in most relationships and in that respect is more realistic rather than "empowering" to men. There is the infamous "to have sex outside of marriage" line here too, but again, that is to be expected. Although, here there a clip of a cheating husband with a disclaimer saying, "We don't support cheating or adultery".  Finally, got to say that the video taken from Detailsdotcom and the voice over by Anuj Abraham are both very impressive. 

Overall, handsome men, modulated voice and humorous take makes the video a must-watch. 

(Below: The original video, "My Choice" featuring Deepika Padukone)

NOT "my choice" .... "MY" CHOICE ...

First- About the video ..

On March 28th this year,  Vogue India released a video, "My Choice", featuring Deepika Padukone.  A collaboration between director Homi Adajania and Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone (they had worked together in Cocktail and Finding Fanny movies), and produced by JSW and Sangita Jindal, 'My Choice' is one more short film  dedicated to #VogueEmpower, Vogue India's social awareness initiative. The script is written by Kersi Khambatta (writer of Finding Fanny movie), the video has been shot by Tassaduq Hussain and directed by Homi.

In this video, 99 women from varying walks of life, including Nimrat Kaur, Adhuna Akhtar, Anupama Chopra, Scherezade Shroff and more who have made a difference in their respective careers tell you every single thing they see as their right as women. 

Why 99 women? "I liked the idea of telling people I originally had 100 women planned but God said the last one was too busy right now," says Adajania.

"In my family, my father is the only male in the house, but all of us have a voice,"says Padukone. "I've always been allowed to be who I want to be. When you're not caged, when you don't succumb to expectation, that's when you're empowered."

(Source: Vogue India)

Second- Let's watch the video

(Source and Video Credit: Vogue India)

Third- The Controversy ..

According to Vogue India, the aim of the Vogue Empower initiative, launched with the seventh anniversary issue, is to encourage people to think, talk and act in ways big or small on issues pertaining to women's empowerment. The message, they say, is simple: It starts with you.

However, some of the messages turned out to be so controversial, that even the feminists among us distanced themselves from the video that is meant to empower women. On the other hand, those who are anti- feminism or pro-equal gender and all the pro men-are-the-kings are having a field day tearing it apart and ridiculing it. 

Forth- Let's analyze ..

What's empowering ..What's not ..and the What-does- it-even-mean?

(Green highlights indicates what is empowering to women, red highlights signifies what is not and the yellow means the meaning is not clear, well, to us- feel free to explain it to us if you wish)

My body, my mind, my choice.

To wear the clothes I like, even as my spirit roams naked.
My choice.

To be a size 0 or a size 15.
They don’t have a size for my spirit, and never will.
To use cotton and silk to trap my soul is to believe you can halt the expansion of the universe.
Or capture sunlight in the palm of your hand.
Your mind is caged, let it free.
My body is not, let it be.
My choice.

To marry, or not to marry.
To have sex before marriage.
To have sex outside of marriage.

To not have sex.
My choice.

To love temporarily.
Or to lust forever.
My choice.

To love a man,
Or a woman,
Or both.
Remember, you are my choice,

I am not your privilege.
The bindi on my forehead, the ring on my finger, adding your surname to mine,
They are ornaments.
They can be replaced.
My love for you cannot.
So treasure that.
My choice.

To come home when I want.
Don’t be upset if I come home at 4 AM.
Don’t be fooled if I come home at 6 PM.
My choice.

To have your baby or not.
To pick you from 7 billion choices, or not.
So don’t get cocky.
My pleasure may be your pain.
My songs, your noise.
My order, your anarchy.
Your sins, my virtues.

My choices are like my fingerprints.
They make me unique.
I am the tree not the forest.
I am the snowflake not the snowfall.

You are the snowflake.
Wake up. Get out of the shitstorm.

I choose to empathize.
Or to be indifferent.

I choose to be different.
I am the universe,
Infinite in every direction.
This is my choice.”

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Analysis of individual messages contained in the bigger box of messages makes it clear that while several of the messages  are actually empowering to women, those that are not actually take away from the overall intent, causing the controversy and justifiably so. After all, 'to have sex before marriage' is a message even the west is fast moving away from. Middle school and high school kids are often made to attend seminars where celibacy before marriage is preached. As for 'sex outside of marriage'- well, quite simply put- that is infidelity and hurting your spouse is no way of empowering yourself. 

'To love temporarily' may be justified as a woman's prerogative to change her mind (most men have always been very comfortable backing away anyways, so no inequality intended here). 'To lust forever' is understandable too- as long as the subject of everlasting lust returns the love, er lust- otherwise, that would be rather creepy, won't it? 

'You are my choice' is empowering. It is time that women realize that they "chose" their partners too, that they did have a choice and not feel obliged at being chosen. In many cases, even today, it is the men who proudly declare, after having 'seen' some half a dozen girls, that they 'chose' their wife. Their wife did 'choose' them too, after all, she did refuse those other men who seemed too greedy, or too cocky, or simply because she didn't feel the chemistry. In spite of the jokes being made on 'I am not your privilege' I will pass this one too.  

However,  'to come home when I want' and the lines following this are "my choice" that has received outright rejection by most women.  Feminist or not, empowerment is not about disrespecting the spouse's right for concern and preferences. Of course he would be upset if 'I come home at 4 AM'. Of course, he shouldn't 'be fooled if I come home at 6 PM'- hopefully because there is nothing to be fooled about- irrespective of what time I come home, all for valid reasons. 

As for 'to have your baby or not', well, we are talking about there being love and respect between husband and wife, right? If we are, then the decision regarding when and how many is respectfully mutual, isn't it? If love and respect doesn't exist, then women's empowerment should really be about having the courage to change things, to ensure love, demand a voice, expect respect.

Lastly,  while the choice 'to empathize' or  'be indifferent', might depend on each person's individual nature- whether man or a woman, this hardly is in any way or form, empowering to women. That said, empathy is a trait that I would think we should strive to imbibe, if lacking. Yes, "choose" to empathize.

 Finally, so what is the take away? ..

So, yes, some of the "choices" Deepika Padukone via Vogue India, via Homi Adajania, claims to be "My choice" are ridiculous, farcical, ludicrous, or even comical. It is certainly not feminism and Deepika hooking her bra ( or did she unhook?) hardly qualifies as either that or empowerment. But the fact remains, that it has started a conversation, a discussion, dare I say- even a movement where women are intently listening to what Deepika has to say and then they are not only rejecting those that they do not agree with, but are carefully formulating and defining their own "choices". For example-

Richa Kulshrestha of Singapore says-

"I am not against feminism but I don't support Deepika's video because surely it is not feminism. If one really supports her video and thinks that her idea of "CHOICE" is correct then they can happily live their life alone as per their choices.. Marriage Relationship is surely not for such people because a relationship is never about one person, it is about 2 people who have equal responsibility and respect towards each other's choices. If these things become the definition of empowerment then within no time we would be living a life which would be very similar to those of animals. After all they are also "empowered" to do what they want..isn't it?"

Sajal Shivlia Varma of New Delhi has this to say-

"My Choice is not an antonym of 'His' choice as pronounced in the Homi - Deepika video neither a childish and frivolous rebuttal of the virtuous fortitude of loving sharing caring and understanding that a woman has stood for through the ages.
My choice is to honour the men in my life who have nurtured me as a father, cared for me as a brother, helped me as a friend and walked with me through thick and thin as a husband and to dishonour those who ever passed a lewd remark or be
haved indecently with me or any woman for that matter.
I am a multilayered multifaceted personality not categorized in bipolar feminist identities of Woo Man or Shoo Man.My choice is not circumscribed with centripetal or centrifugal forces with man at the center.
I am an all encompassing part of the universe as much proud and content to be a pro-creator and nurturer as creating my own path through the woods.My choice emanates from my feelings and my persona.I value and respect myself and therefore i value and respect people around me.My choice is to be me.

Not just bright young women like Richa and Sajal, numerous women took to social media, expressing what they agree with and what they don't, accepting and rejecting, scrutinizing and re-defining their "choices". Just in that, the Homi Adjania directed, Deepika Padukone's portrayal of women's empowerment is a success. Of course, there will always be the young, impressionable minds that will need guidance. What this video does achieve is starting that conversation- among friends, men, women and even in families (hopefully). 

Ultimately, women's empowerment is when, at the end of the day, "my choice" should be exactly that- "MY" CHOICE, what "I" choose, what "I" deem right.

 By Sonal Kulshrestha


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