Kalki Koechlin’s Podcast ‘My Indian Life’ Is Yet Another Attempt By Her Towards Social Change

Posted: September 6, 2018

Always being outspoken about issues like child sex abuse or her support to LGBT community, Kalki Koechlin’s podcast ‘My Indian Life’ is her new attempt for bringing change in the society. 

Women often stay quite. The consequences they will have to face, if they openly give out their honest opinions about societal issues or the injustice done to them are severe. Malayalam Actress Parvathy Menon being harassed and trolled on social media last year for talking her mind, can be an example for this. But women need not stop, rater they shouldn’t.

Many women are courageous enough to address issues that are bothering the world. One such person is the Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin. She never shies away or thinks twice before taking a bold step towards changing certain ways and things as to how they are done. Instances to prove the same are the unconventional characters she played on screen often, her support to the LGBT community or speaking about her experiences with sexual abuse as a child.

Now she is trying something new, ‘yet again’ as she herself says in the promo of her podcast series ‘My Indian Life’ on BBC World Service. They are stories of young people who talk about being young Indians in the 21st century. The challenges are many. But how to deal with them or tackle them differently is what the podcast series is all about. 

One particular episode, the story that moved me, as I could absolutely connect to every word and line spoken in it, was that of Mallika Taneja, a theatre artist known for her play ‘Thoda Dhyaan Se’.

Being a girl, all that I have been hearing from my parents and relatives, since the time I started going around on my own is to be very very careful, not to trust people or talk to strangers. But after listening to the podcast I realized that this advice is as common as breathing in every girl’s life. She must carefully watch out for herself or better have a man or a guy to protect her always she is told.

These are the exactly same things that Kalki and Mallika talk about in the podcast. But Mallika has gone a step ahead. She doesn’t want to just talk about the safety of women but do something about it and the step that she has taken towards the same is shocking and extremely bold.

The reasons for crime against women are many. But what could be the root-cause? According to Mallika its women’s body, taboos and stereotypes attached to it, it’s objectification and none being willing to openly talk about it. So, what has she done? It’s highly important and people are not ready to talk about it. So, she is giving them the first push, forcing them to debate and discuss about the issue in hand – the plight of women and their safety in this country.

Apparently the performance of her play ‘Thoda Dhyaan Se’ begins with her being stark naked on the stage. Not all are used to looking at naked bodies. So, later as her audience gets used to the sight, she begin her monologue and start wearing many layers of clothes, which is highly symbolic. 

Mallika in the podcast episode talks in detail about her performance experiences, people’s reactions, why she does what she does, her fears, questioning herself, self doubt, her family’s support for this daring act of hers and the like. But for us it’s the issue that she addresses with her performance is of greater importance.

Recently I was arguing with my mom as to why it’s okay to wear short and revealing clothes. Its just body, its natural and why people make such fuss about it. As Aamir Khan says in the film PK, crows don’t wear clothes, all other animal species are naked. These very humans, thousands of years ago roamed around in the open without covering up their skin. But as years passed and man became more ‘civilized’, clothing became a must and with that began hundreds of problems.

Human bodies are not just so any more. Lot many things like dignity, pride, beauty, purity, etc have got stuck to it so hard that they have become integral and can’t live without each other. For years and generations these have spread its strong roots in the minds of people. It has even led to misconceptions and none care to change them. The fantasies and taboos about bodies go very deep.

The most affected because of this are women as their bodies are often objectified. All these things in people’s heads lead to crime against women, the so called ‘vulnerable sex’.

It is this vulnerability that is being addressed by Mallika through her performance. Hope attempts and efforts by people like her bring about a change. More and more people have already started talking about it. It’s our duty as well to not shy away but openly talk about sex, bodies, crimes and harassment without hiding them under our silence.  

Listen to the episode, Kalki Presents My Indian Life – A Body Of Protest

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