Happy Independence Day!! May we be free of pettiness of mind, free of the pressure of conformity, freedom from fear and most importantly, gender bias!!!
My recent reality show Fear Factor Khatron Ke Khiladi was a liberating experience and is, according to me, an’ Indian male fairy tale’ malfunction!!! I mean, what happened to the good Indian girl who cooked, cleaned, screamed at the sight of a cockroach and let the man wear the pants?
In a complete antithesis to the image of the domesticated Indian woman, 13 girls in assorted shapes and sizes, with polar personalities ranging from the “goody two shoes” bahu of television Anita Hassanandani, to daughter of Maharashtra’s soil Sonali Kulkarni, effervescent tomboy Urvashi Sharma, calm and composed twins Tapur and Tupur and others (including me J ), have blazed a trail of glory on television sets across the country leaving most of India’s male population gob-smacked.
Having said that I don’t think that I, or for that matter any of the other girls had fathomed the hazards that lay ahead of us in South Africa or the degree of heroism we would have to exhibit when we boarded the plane.
I had with great excitement scoured the internet and You Tube for video’s of Fear Factor and with every gruesome, awesome, overwhelming, exhilarating visual tried to envision what my body and mind were going to be subjected to. Ha ha!! Trust me. NOTHING prepares you for the reality or adrenalin rush of Fear Factor!
The schedule of KKK was grueling, as were the conditions we shot in. But I was up for the challenge be it 4 am wake up calls, minus one degree weather, bruises and injuries, or just the most mind boggling stunts. After all, the tag line is ‘Jo Dar Gaya Woh Ghar Gaya”, and I for one, was most certainly not ready to go home.
Why would I? When else in life would I have the chance to experience being so many super heroes rolled into one. I have felt like super girl when I have flown off high rise buildings without a care as to where I land, like spider woman when I have climbed across glass buildings 12 floors high with suction cups, like James Bond when I have flipped and smashed a BMW, like Medusa surrounded by innumerable snakes, and like Rambo when I’ve jumped off helicopters into icy waters.
The reach and impact of television is phenomenal and as a result of it, the last one month has been euphoric!!! It feels wonderful, utterly wonderful to walk into malls, multiplexes and restaurants and be surrounded by people applauding my bravado, older women telling me that I’ve made them proud, younger women telling me I’m inspirational and having men doff their hats in my direction.
I truly hope the superb ratings and enormous success of KKK is representative of a changing mind-set in middle class India. That somehow families have broken away from saas bahu melodramas and been inspired to take on challenges, to dare, to achieve and most importantly to break moulds. That irrespective of gender, whoever watched KKK connected with the dormant strength they are innately blessed with and most importantly, that they’ve learned it’s ok to fail, but that its not okay to not try.
I’m also hoping on the 61st year of our independence that more and more women of modern India trade kitchen politics for the real thing. Women first achieved the right to stand for public office in South Australia in 1894 but in India, Sarojini Naidu, became the first woman President of the Indian National Congress in 1925.
Be it politics, business, IT, industry, entertainment, banking and all the way into space, the emergence of the new Indian woman is apparent vis-à-vis her representation in cinema, modern literature, newspapers and magazines and this tough woman wants to be seen and to be heard. She’s moving from proving her virtuosity to proving her mettle. I mean, if a modern day Sita had been asked to the walk across burning coals she’d probably respond with “get a life”, or divorce you, or ask you to see a shrink. If you persist, she will in all probability march you off to the cops. And then again, maybe post Khatron ke Khiladi she’d call it stunt # 33 and do it just for fun!!!
I’m constantly being asked as to how I got the courage to perform such death defying stunts. I have 2 answers. First, are my children, because I believe in leading by example and I want them to grow up to be fearless and take on all challenges that life will send their way. And the second is that, it’s not because things are difficult that we don’t dare. It’s because we don’t dare, that things are difficult!!!
Hugs and happiness,