Vogue has struck a chord with women in India – its recent My Choice video, which focuses on female empowerment, has been viewed nearly 10 million times since it was published on March 28.
Directed by Homi Adajania, it features Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone as one of 99 women from varying walks of life coming together to send a powerful message around the things women should see as their rights.
“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.”
In part of the narration of the video, she reads: “My body, my mind, my choice. To wear the clothes I like; even if 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 that 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.”
As for the use of 99 women, Adajania explains: “I liked the idea of telling people I originally had 100 women planned but God said she was busy.”
The video is part of the #VogueEmpower social awareness initiative, which launched in India last October. This is designed to “encourage people to think, talk and act in ways big or small on issues pertaining to women’s empowerment”. It pushes a simple message to everyone: “It starts with you.”
The initiative has engaged opinion leaders and influencers since launch including Aamir Khan in a radio campaign, Sudha Murthy who contributed towards cervical cancer screening, and AR Rahman who dedicated an album to the cause.