MOUNTING WOMEN EMPOWERMENT
Starting as a radio jockey and VJ, he moved to acting on television daily soaps, before hosting television reality series and making himself a household name in India. The actor has often been vocal about the male volent issues surrounding women and is known for supporting organizations working towards women empowerment. In this interview, he reveals his concerns about the same and makes a plea to the younger generation of our society to start respecting women. He is interviewed by Grace Cyril who captures his brilliant thoughts for our readers. Q When was the last time you chose to work with a female director, producer or writer? What’s the key difference you find working with women and men? In my career so far, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with a lot of female directors. One of the most noticeable things after working with them is that they are very organized. In future, I would love to work with some of the known female directors in B-Town like Zoya Akhtar and Meghna Gulzar. They are hugely talented, focused and systematic with their work. Q Is there still a difference between the pay scale of male stars and female stars? We have come a long way as far as wages are concerned. Earlier, there used to be a huge difference in pay gap between a female and a male actor. Fortunately, now both are paid equally. Q Two years back you showed your feminist side when you visited your college in Delhi to talk about women safety and empowerment. Your words left a huge impact on the crowd and your speech went viral on social media with people wearing shirts bearing the slogan ‘Respect for All’. What is your say on the current scenario of women’s safety? I am a strong believer of women empowerment and I have always supported organizations working towards the cause. I believe our country needs to go a long way as far as safety for women is concerned. I think every influencer or a celebrity in our country should start taking this seriously and tell their fans and the public about women’s safety and create as much awareness as possible. We should also speak about equality for everyone irrespective of their gender. ‘Respect for All’ should be a universal slogan which we all would have to follow. Q You also mentioned that you take good care of the women crew members while shooting. What has been your personal contribution towards women’s safety and their empowerment? My contribution has always been there as an artist. I make sure that whenever I go to any public functions I raise this topic of women’s safety. I go to many colleges to spread the word on how to stay away from ragging and report if you see anything untoward happening. I support NGOs also who work towards women empowerment. Q What would your advice be to the younger generation of our country regarding this issue? My advice to youngsters is to always treat women with respect. Also, it’s not always about harassing but also about reporting a crime. When you see someone being bullied or harassed, instead of just sitting there you should take a stand and stop it. In situations reporting a crime becomes equally important than instantly fighting for it. Q You recently visited the BSF headquarters in Jammu and performed there. Did you meet any women BSF official there? What do you have to say about that? The women I saw in BSF were comparatively less than men but it was very heartening to even see those many. That’s not a general expectation you have when you see forces like border security because they are a very active force we have. In the era we are living, things are really changing. We have seen a considerable growth in the number of women in the Indian army. I would love to see this trend increasing. Q You have a very adorable daughter too. How are you raising her differently in this male dominated country? What advices would you give to her? I feel that having a daughter is an experience rather than just raising a child. She is very small right now but in future I would advise her not to indulge in any kind of bullying. A lot of kids today don’t open up to their parents which is not the right thing. I would try to have a good and friendly relationship with my daughter.