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Bollywood Is The Reason Why I Cannot Sing Hindi Songs Anymore

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Twinkle twinkle little star; How I wonder what you are?

Bollywood or Tinsel Town – the world of dreams. The world that brought us so many stories, some that seemed realistic, some that were fairytales. Bollywood is the make-believe world we love. Another vital part of Bollywood is its mesmerising music.

And, then comes the death of a promising actor, Sushant Singh Rajput which opens a pandora’s box! Suicide, murder, mental illness, betrayal, drugs, underworld, and the list seems to be neverending. Suddenly the whole country is hit by so many hard-to-digest facts.

Are they true? Is this the reality of our favourite stars who are, “up above the world so high!” 

The gory truths that are presented have shattered me personally; I wonder why. Hadn’t we heard of things like the casting couch, multiple affairs of film actors, drug addiction of famous stars, etc.? But I had taken all these things in my stride, with the view that this is their personal life and I don’t have a right to judge them. But this time it is different.

Sushant
Bollywood is the make-believe world we love.

Sushant Singh Rajput is not just a name, but the face of a victim of Bollywood treachery – someone who has made us think of the mysterious deaths in the past such as Parveen Babi, Divya Bharti, Jiah Khan, etc. Well, these are the big names – may be other smaller stars have been sacrificed by the cruel world of Bollywood.

I would have brushed aside the facts presented on media and social media and gone ahead with my life, but I could not. I did not want to believe that the reality of Bollywood was so gory. But what made me believe in these facts was the silence of all the “stars” in Bollywood!

Oh, how much I loved them, almost all of them! They are so beautiful, so charming! How could they not utter a word? Why were they silent?

It seemed to be true! The golden world of Bollywood came crumbling down. I felt I had been betrayed. These stars whose movies I had watched for years, whose songs I had listened to, were so self-centred, so insensitive. It was tough to digest!

I wondered, why was I affected so severely? Am I over-sensitive? Am I getting too worked up about something that doesn’t affect my life personally? I have been a witness to riots, terrorist attacks, several protests in the country, but I had never felt so badly, then why this time?

The sad truth is that these turn of events affect me tremendously. Simply because Bollywood music is an integral part of my life. I was brought up in a house where I was exposed to the beauty of Hindi songs from a very young age. My parents listened to Radio Ceylon, Vividh Bharti, etc. and, music became a part of my life.

nepotism in bollywood
Representational Image.

As I grew up, I realised that it was Hindi songs that helped me cheer up when I was feeling low. I am not much of a singer, but I sing for myself, just because I love music. For me, Bollywood songs have always been about lyrics and melody – but not anymore!

When I hum a song or listen to one on the radio or my favourite playlists, it is no longer the lyrics but the faces of Bollywood stars that appear before me. Their reality strikes me. I feel cheated, yet again, and the songs stop on my lips.

I cannot sing. I try to listen to old songs, but then again, I begin to wonder, “Was everything alright in those days?” I am confused.

I change tracks and try listening to English songs – Cliff Richards, Abba, etc. And, again I think if Bollywood is so bad then what about Hollywood, the land of affluence, how would that be? The mystery of Sushant Singh Rajput’s death has left me disillusioned!

I begin to question, is this the truth about all successful people and celebrities in different fields? I find it difficult to believe people for who they are, is it them, or is it just a facade? I will need time to recover; I will need to rework my life. Maybe a life without music or movies.

I wonder if this was the impact on me, how would all those who have held these stars as role models feel? Will their dreams come crashing down too? I guess it is time to face reality for as it is, not for as it was, or as you wish it to be!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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