Today, we don’t have enough jobs, trees, clear air or sanity. We live, making do with what we can with the scarce resources we have and try to multiple those. But if there’s one thing that is in abundance, it’s the number of issues that plague our society. There are so many causes that need attention and action and it’s practically impossible for an individual to work for all of them. But if each one of us contribute in some way to some causes, there’ll be enough attention on each of these causes. Which is why, when I heard of Anshula Kapoor’s venture Fankind, I was really intrigued.
It combines the influence of Bollywood celebrities and social causes to create a perfect amalgamation of goodness.
I got the opportunity to speak to her about it and it was a conversation that was equal part inspiring and exciting. I left home that morning, knowing in my heart that this interview is not going to be unlike any other. Anshula welcomed me with the warmest smile and as we sat, facing the nothingness of the sea, she poured her heart out about her endeavour and I could tell how close it is to her heart. “Fankind is our endeavour to try and make fans a step closer to their favourite celebrities by fundraising for charities across the country. We do that by curating once-in-a-lifetime kind of experiences with the celebrities, things that they are more than comfortable sharing with the fans.”
She further explained, “Like right now Ananya Panday’s and Sara Ali Khan’s campaigns are live. For Rs. 200 they get one paid entry but then there are a bunch of bonus entries and promo code entries. Once the winner is selected we fly them with a plus 1 to Bombay. We put them in a hotel and make sure that the fan feels like a VIP. To be able to give that one precious moment to them is really important to me.” Speaking on connecting this to the charities, she expressed, “It is about collecting as much funds as we can for the NGOs that the celebrities have chosen. We’ve been fortunate enough to have celebrities who have come on board who are truly passionate about the causes. They are doing it out of goodness of their heart. It is completely pro bono where the celebrities are concerned as well. They believe in the cause and they like interacting with their fans.”
Ananya Panday is raising money for Hothur Foundation which helps acid attack survivors largely. “The foundation not just helps with their medical and psychological needs but they also make sure they are empowered. They work on making them understand that their life has not ended. Most importantly, they work on making them feel that they are not a victim but a survivor,” expressed Anshula.
I feel that the struggle is not just with the way they look at themselves in the mirror. Acid attack survivors face a lot of problem getting accepted by the society or not being looked at like oddballs. The reactions can be shocking. The other day I watched Chhapaak and right in the start, Deepika was shown struggling to find a job as an acid attack survivor. “When they go out looking for a job, a lot of people don’t want them around because they believe there is ugliness there. It breaks my heart that they were put in a situation that was not in their control. They have lived through an unimaginable amount of pain and then they face rejection from the society just because they have scars,” said Kapoor.
She further added, “It takes 3 seconds to ruin someone’s life. And before those 3 seconds, they had dreams and ambitions. And having all that taken away because of a heinous act that a barbarian has done, it’s really heart breaking. The fact that acid is available so easy and cheap, it becomes so convenient for these barbaric men.”
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When our Government regulated the sale on acid, why is that the number of acid attacks haven’t gone down? Why that is our Government is forced to take action only when the woman attacked succumbs to her injuries? According to a report by the India Today Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) there have been 1,483 cases of acid attacks reported in the country between 2014 and 2018.
Why does a woman have to lose so much just because some man’s ego is too fragile and cannot handle her rejection? Why does she get this just because she refused someone’s advances? Anshula narrated the story of an acid attack survivor and she had tears in her eyes, while I got goosebumps. “There was this one survivor who was newly married, her job was to make sure the food is ready by the time her husband comes home. One day, the husband comes home and the roti wasn’t fully ready. She is making the final turn of the roti. He gets so angry that he leaves the house and comes back with a canister and throws at her. She didn’t even realise what was happening. She was giggling and thought he is throwing water at her. She covered her face and you can literally figure it from her face,” she said.
Anshula further added, “There’s so much our country needs to do to address women’s rights. We need fast track tribunals. In Bangladesh the highest punishment for acid attack is death. These are deterrents. Bangladesh had the highest number of acid attacks in the world and it has gone down to a handful.”
I am so glad that acid attacks are being spoken about and covered by media. Because we need to make a noise, we need to create awareness and reintegrate them into our society as much as we need these heinous acts to stop. Maybe we are not even close to where we need to be but I am just glad that thanks to people like Anshula Kapoor and NGOs like Hothur Foundation for creating the ripples!