The latest advertisement video by Vicks India that has gone viral within 24 hours of its release is stirring millions of souls across India.
The ad directed by filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan of Masaan fame takes a more inclusive approach highlighting why family and motherhood should go beyond the biological ties and in the process, it touches upon the sensitive topic of transgender rights and adoption in India.
The video opens up with a kid named Gayatri who is on her way to boarding school to become a doctor. She narrates the story of her adoption by a woman who has been raising her against all odds.
Gradually, the identity of her mother is revealed she turns out to be a transgender and the video leaves the audience in total awe.
As mentioned in the ad it is based on a true story. Gauri Sawant who features in the ad is a transgender activist and is also the director Sakhi Char Trust, in Malad, Mumbai that helps transgenders and people with HIV and AIDS. Gauri was born in Pune. Her father was in police and she had an elder sister. She lost her mother when she was 9 years old.
One day her family found her wearing a bra under her t-shirt and since then the family started ill-treating her. She was made to urinate with doors open so that her uncles could ensure that she was not sitting like a woman while urinating. Her father always ensured that she was made to wear pant and shirt like men. He also forced her to grow a mustache. Gauri says all these things were like torture.
When she was 17, one night her father opened the door and asked her to leave. All of a sudden abandoned by her family she was on road. This was when she came in contact with Ashok Row Kavi, the famous gay rights activist who provided her shelter and paid for her education. She also went through sex reassignment surgeries to complete her transition from male to female.
She adopted Gayatri when she lost her mother who was a sex worker to HIV-AIDS. Gayatri started attending her school in the neighborhood. Since she spent most of her time along with Gauri and some other members of Hijra community, she always struggled to differentiate between “Uncles” and “Aunties”.
One day when other girls at school started making fun of Gayatri, she got into a fight and she started cursing them and clapping like a eunuch. “That’s when I knew I had to get her to a boarding school,” Gauri said.
Now Gayatri studies at a boarding school in Pune and comes home in holidays when both of them spend some good time together.
The ad closes with a line which perfectly sums up the condition of transgenders in India and the stigma that is attached to them. Even today they are offered low profile jobs only. We still have a long way to go to ensure that transgenders are provided with all the basic rights they deserve.
“I will disappoint mother, because I won’t be a doctor, I will be a lawyer. For my mom.”
We really hope that transgenders of our country are treated with respect like any other common citizen !