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Recently, there have been so many people in the news for sexual misconduct that all our hearts are breaking collectively. It started with Harvey Weinstein and now there is no stopping the survivor’s ’tales tales anymore. It pains me to realise that these stories have been hidden from the media and the public for so long because the men held immense power. And while it’s no secret that it happens in Bollywood as well, recently Madhu Chopra, Priyanka Chopra’s mother, spoke about howt just commonhow common sexual harassment is, at the 20th International Children’s Film Festival in Hyderabad.
In an interview with Deccan Chronicle, Madhu Chopra said “She was just 17 when she entered the industry, so I accompanied her every minute of the day till about three years ago. So a gentleman meets her and says: ‘Will your mother sit outside while I narrate the story to you?’ Priyanka told him, ‘If it is a story that my mother can’t hear then it is a story that I cannot do.’ She walked out of that project — a prestigious one.”
As cliched as it may sound, my mother is my #GirlHero. She is a fiesty woman that came from a small town, who ran away from home to pursue her dream job... she was a doctor in the armed forces, has over 8 different medical certifications, is a certified pilot and she speaks 9 languages! She also used to drive around in an open top jeep (what a badass!), Whew! She's also an amazing mother, daughter, sister, wife, business partner... She's the one who taught me that I could be anything and everything I want to be... And that's why she's my #GirlHero... it's so important to inculcate that sense of confidence in the girls around you and hopefully that's what we do this International Day of the Girl Child. #DayoftheGirl @girlupcampaign @madhuchopra
She also added “Another time, a designer told her that the director’s brief was to dress her in itsy-bitsy clothes. The director had said, ‘What is the point of having a Miss World in front of the camera if we cannot show her as her beautiful self?’ Priyanka refused to do the film. It was being helmed by a reputed director and he got upset. Priyanka lost 10 films because she walked out of that project. But she, she didn’t care. That is what I say to everyone. This is not the end of your life. Your life is more valuable.”
We’ve normalised sexual misconduct and harassment to such an extent that directors feel that it is okay to objectify a young girl’s body as if she has no right to it. If somebody as powerful as PeeCee, who happens to be on the list of Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women list, had to face this sort of harassment where she lost 10 movies for saying no to one, what chance do people who are struggling to make it big, stand?
In the end, Madhu Chopra had a powerful message for all the young girls and aspiring women out there - “If you live on your own terms, the struggle is bigger but the outcome is sweeter too. This is my advice to every girl. Do not compromise and life will be sweeter for you.” Thank you for the wise words, Mummy Chopra!
For every powerful woman who found success on her own terms, there are a bunch of men who have tried to pull her down. As much as it pains me to say, maybe it’s time that one gender of the society started respecting the struggles of the other. Can we do away with this objectification already, please?