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Because the MARD Farhan Akhtar turns 41 today!

The MARD – who rolls up as an actor, director, producer, script-writer, singer, lyricist, anchor, and now – runner with remarkable ease – Farhan Akhtar is turning a year older today! Bollywood’s multi-talented hottie is surely the resident of a million hearts worldwide but the reason we love him so much is because this man of many talents knows exactly what it means to be a MAN!

So, on his birthday, we decided to help contribute to the social ripple he speaks of when he upholds a cause so dear to his heart – M.A.R.D (Men Against Rape and Discrimination).

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The seeds for launching a social campaign directed at awakening an entire nation to the need for gender equality and respect toward women were sown in August 2012 when Pallavi Purkayastha, a Mumbai-based lawyer and employee of Farhan Akhtar’s production house was sexually assaulted and murdered in her apartment. When M.A.R.D was brought alive by Farhan in March 2013, the cause had become all the more pertinent in the wake of the horrific Delhi gang rape incident the previous December. While the entire country was plunged into mourning the loss of one of its daughters – Nirbhaya, Farhan knew it was the right time to call the shots in favor of raising awareness about existing gender norms.

An instance of heart-rending violence against India’s daughter had shaken the nation to its very core and it was time that the incessantly ticking gender disaster bomb on which our country sat, be diffused. Farhan knew that this feat was not achievable merely by a change in legislation but by aiming to avert the blast by enlisting the help of the ‘mindset’ squad. He clearly stated that a change in the way women are perceived and treated needs to be brought about at the elemental level. From there, the change can only spread, he says, ‘as a pyramid effect through you.’ He challenges existing gender stereotypes so as to dig deeper into the mindset that drives the heinous crimes directed at women. He emphasizes upon the need for every individual to become a ‘catalyst for (the) change’ we want to see!

The Pyramid Effect

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Soon enough, biggies in the business enlisted to support Farhan in his initiative and the movement started trending across social media within a day of its launch. Bollywood actors like Boman Irani, Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor, Farah Khan, Shabana Azmi, Shahid Kapoor, along with a million fans started to re-tweet Farhan’s tenets for gender equality and what constitutes ‘respect’ for women. Tweets such as:




began doing the rounds. The twitter campaign gained so much momentum so fast, that Farhan took the initiative to the T20 IPL match. For a country that breathes cricket and Bollywood, the combination was a potent tool to instill the need to not just challenge existing gender norms but also instill a culture of ‘change.’ The change sought is not only to respect women but also to start seeing and treating them as equals. Much of this can be effected vis-à-vis an exploration of the patriarchal norms that deploys ‘woman’ to serve as a mirror to reflect ‘man’ as twice his actual size. The secondary status of women in society and the discrimination practiced thereof, needs to be seen in a new light via a revisionary engagement with the gender discourse and effecting revised and rationalized social conversations about equality. This was the reason why Farhan ensured that the 70,000 moustaches distributed at the IPL match were worn by everyone present as a tangible token of a commitment to strive to attain the glorious possibility of a country that has real ‘MEN.’

heforshe campaign

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When questioned about the challenges surrounding enforcement of stricter laws against violence directed at women, Farhan said that while crime merits punishment, our aim is to weed out the seeds of all forms of violence towards women altogether. And we couldn’t agree more! Prevention is indeed better than cure and there is nothing more powerful in inspiring change than empowering the ones who shall be instrumental in bringing it about!

The Song

Farhan launched the MARD campaign song ‘Chulein Aasmaan’ to this effect, wherein he addresses how women have been relegated to the traditional role of a homemaker and why it is about time we help her re-grow her clipped wings (the patriarchal society clipped them, about time a U-turn came through!) and allow her to fly.

Watch the empowering video here:


Farhan has addressed the most pivotal need of the times – (M)engagement for (F)empowerment. And it is to that crucial step towards ‘change’ that we applaud his vision and support him. The UN recognizes the same and has made him the UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador for South Asia. Therefore, our versatile hottie shall take his efforts at home for women empowerment and gender equality on a wider platform to advocate the need for ‘respecting women’ at a global level vis-à-vis the HeForShe campaign. Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Under Secretary General and Executive Director, UN Women, states, “Farhan started his own campaign MARD – Men Against Rape and Discrimination that aims to sensitize men and create awareness about the safety of women. That kind of engagement is essential. We need creative and committed men like Farhan to push the gender equality and women’s empowerment agenda. I am convinced that Farhan’s passion and conviction for the cause will galvanize a multiplier effect and reach the hearts and minds of men and boys in South Asia and beyond.”


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Well, what can we say save we know and we love him for the same! We hope that his initiative indeed serves to sensitize men in India (and overseas too) to the cause. We hope that a day shall come when Farhan’s vision comes alive:

To the commitment to ‘change’ and being the ‘catalyst for change,’ we wish the jack AND master of all trades a very very very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

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Article Name
The multi-talented Farhan Akhtar turns 41 today
As the multi-talented Farhan Akhtar turns a year older today, we take a look at his MARD initiative and how he hopes to bring about change through it.
Sejal Parikh

Sejal Parikh

"I'm a hurricane of words but YOU can choose the damage I do to you..."