In the fictional Spider-Man story, Ben Parker famously proclaims, “With great power comes great responsibility”. Heard and read all over the world, Parker’s words are held true in many facets of life. One such facet entails the power and influence Bollywood celebrities possess over mass audiences in the subcontinent. While few celebrities misuse their influence upon audiences, a large group of celebrities have stood up and provided their voice to make positive changes in society. Amitabh Bachchan and Boman Irani have endorsed the “Bell Bajao” campaign against domestic violence. The likes of Rahul Bose, Abhishek Bachchan and Priyanka Chopra have actively raised awareness of climate change and several environmental campaigns. Milind Soman has helped set up Pinkathon which helps educate and promote women fitness while raising awareness about breast cancer. John Abraham has been an advocate for PETA, worked with the “PowerLight A Village” campaign (providing solar electricity to villages) and has also set up his own campaign, “John’s Brigade for Habitat” which provides homes for the needy. The list is ever-growing and helps lay the foundation for younger generations to make positive impacts upon society.
The latest to join this positive-change-makers club is Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma. This upcoming Diwali, Anushka Sharma launches “Pawsitivity” – a campaign which hopes to sensitise people about the adverse effects of air, water, noise and soil pollution upon animals. The 27-year-old actress is the proud owner of Dude – her pet Labrador – whom she also claims to be her “ideal movie partner”. Speaking about the campaign, Anushka explains, “The focus of the initiative is to generate interest amongst the youth and children through innovation and technology. Animals make the world a better place and it is our responsibility to be sensitive towards them as they don’t have a voice. When someone burst a firecracker, they don’t realize how badly it affects animals and birds. I want people to care and avoid making noise.”
Firecrackers have come to be synonymous with the festival of Diwali in India; a ritual accepted everywhere in the nation. Anushka also acknowledges that it’s a proven fact that noise pollution levels increase up to 80-100 percent around Diwali in most Indian cities. She adds, “Diwali is a festival of lights and happiness. It can be celebrated in a safe, healthy manner. The noise created by these crackers scares animals, destroys their everyday life patterns and causes death in some cases. Spare a thought for our voiceless friends.” To help make a change, Anushka will launch an extensive social media campaign (namely Facebook, Twitter & Instagram – @AnushkaSharma) with several Bollywood celebrities also expected to join. The larger goal of the campaign is to decrease the decibel levels in residential areas and reduce noise pollution in general.
Having turned vegetarian in 2014, Anushka exhibited her animal-friendly demeanour when she used Twitter to launch a campaign against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival of China in June. The festival which revolves around the slaughtering of thousands of dogs every year in Southern China faced the wrath of Anushka Sharma with the likes of Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha and Jacqueline Fernandez also supporting the campaign. Over in the West, Hollywood A-listers have shared similar ideals to Anushka in the past. In 2005, Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey flew to Louisiana to support the rescue of 70 deserted pets through his initiative – “Growing Up With Pets”. Similarly, Leonardo DiCaprio has actively campaigned to protect wild elephants in association with the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Africa. Anne Hathaway has proposed and encouraged “All-Vegan celebrity weddings” and “custom vegan heels”, supporting the cruelty-free movement by ensuring no animal products are seen on celebrities even whilst onscreen.
Anushka reiterates, “Animals don’t have a voice, you do. Help end this cruelty.” Odds are this will not be the last campaign Anushka lends her voice to as animal welfare and rights are often underrepresented in the Indian subcontinent. Whether this campaign meets its goal and does ring about a positive change in society is yet to be seen but by pioneering this movement, Anushka Sharma enters an elite club of powerful people creating campaigns for a cause and not the applause. One thing we do know is that Anushka has utilized the great power and responsibility that comes with being Anushka Sharma for the right reasons; hoping to bring positive change for Dude and all the others in the Animal Kingdom.