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Thu, 16 May 2013 15:30:00 GMT | By Priya Bala

Our filmy heroes to the fore

Mahesh Babu read and recorded the Telugu translation of the poem titled Mard, written by Farhan’s father, Javed Akhtar

Our filmy heroes to the fore (© Varinder Chawla)

Farhan Akhtar’s campaign to make men treat with respect and dignity is a laudable effort and deserves our support.

Earlier this month, top Telugu hero Mahesh Babu joined hands with Bollywood actor-director Farhan Akhtar to support his campaign titled MARD. It stands for Men Against Rape and Discrimination (of women).  Mahesh Babu read and recorded the Telugu translation of the poem titled Mard, written by Farhan’s father, Javed Akhtar.

The poem, now an anthem for the campaign, begins...

Jiski aankhon mein hai jagmagati hui jaise gehri sharaafat ki ik roshni
Jis ke andaz mein ek tehzeeb hai
Jis ke lehjay mein narmi hai
shabdon mein tameez hai
Jis ke dil mein bhi aur jis ki baton mein bhi
aurat ke vastay poori izzat bhi hai poora aadar bhi hai...
And ends thus...
Sach Toh ye hai
vohi mard hain.

The power of Bollywood to send out a message cannot be underestimated, given that its stars enjoy the status of demi-gods. Farhan Akhtar has done the smart thing by roping in Mahesh Babu to spread the message down South. Kollywood could chip in, too. Perhaps Vijay or Ajith would make a great MARD ambassador, with their sway over the masses.

I am not getting carried away by the touch of filmy glamour the issue of women’s equality has acquired on account of Farhan Akhtar’s intervention. Of course, MARD, which advocates that a real man is one who respects women, will not cause rape rates to fall drastically. But it will make it cool to be respectful to a woman, rather than pass lewd comments when you brush past her on the street. Youngsters, especially, are likely to be influenced positively. Hopefully, the ripple will cause a wave and fewer and fewer men will act like beasts.

Farhan Akhtar wants to take the movement to schools, sensitising young minds to the concept of treating women as equals and human beings. I hope he gets all the support he needs.

Well done, Farhan Akhtar! If even a handful of men are converted and understand the concept of being a real MARD, he would have achieved much. I wish more prominent personalities will join the fight. It cannot be restricted to one candlelight march and one sound byte on TV. The widely worshipped actresses can do their bit, too. But then we have Deepika Padukone selling iced coffee by displaying her admirable abs. But that is a tirade for another day.

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