United Nations Launches Stunning Gay Equality Bollywood Campaign: VIDEO

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The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Wednesday launched the first ever Bollywood-style UN music video at a press conference in Mumbai to promote its Free & Equal campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

JaitlyWrites the UN in a press release:

The two-and-a-half minute video, called "The Welcome", stars actress and former Miss India Celina Jaitly. Jaitly, who was last year nominated by the High Commissioner as a "UN equality champion" in recognition of her support for LGBT equality, makes her musical debut in the video, singing a new version of the 1979 Bollywood classic, Uthe Sab Ke Kadam. The song was recomposed and remixed by Neeraj Shreedhar of the Bombay Vikings, and produced in association with the music company Saregama India. The dance moves in the video were choreographed by Longi -- the choreographer for Slumdog Millionaire -- who worked on the project pro bono, as did the entire cast. The concept for the video was developed by creative agency Curry Nation.

"It is an honour to partner with the United Nations on the incredibly timely and important Free & Equal campaign," said Celina Jaitly. "I have been working for LGBT rights for many years, and I am honoured to contribute my musical debut to such a good cause. Music is a universal language. It can engage people's passion, and that's when good things happen."

Jaitly was joined at the press conference by renowned Indian actor Imran Khan, Humsafar Trust founder Ashok Row Kavi, transgender rights activist Laxmi Tripathi, commentator and comedian Cyrus Broacha, and UN representatives. Speakers discussed the human rights challenges facing LGBT people in India and around the world and the steps needed to combat homophobia and transphobia. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon sent a special message in which he expressed his support for the campaign and his solidarity with India's LGBT community.

Commenting on the launch, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said she was delighted to see the Free & Equal campaign extended to India.

"LGBT people have historically been marginalized and subjected to discrimination and violence in India, as elsewhere. But change is coming. In the past few months we have seen an unprecedented level of public debate relating to the rights of LGBT people. As awareness grows, attitudes will change. We need to do all we can to hasten change by challenging the myths and misinformation that get in the way of understanding. That is what this campaign is all about."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. Tremendous.

    Posted by: Sergio | Apr 30, 2014 12:27:15 PM


  2. I don't know, it always troubles me that the great majority of the bollywood beauty queens and kings are fair and look Persian or Italian. Yes, they are pretty, but there are pretty dark people too.

    Posted by: woody | Apr 30, 2014 12:31:33 PM


  3. That really is pretty tremendous.

    Posted by: Ben Nevis | Apr 30, 2014 12:34:20 PM


  4. It's a step in the right direction.

    Posted by: SeattleMike | Apr 30, 2014 12:36:32 PM


  5. Disclaimer, I do not know anything about Indian or Bollywood culture. But I have a question, is that a stereotypical fantasy of a wedding celebration? What cultural or group is this video targeted at? Just curious.

    Posted by: spg | Apr 30, 2014 12:40:06 PM


  6. @Woody

    There is a fair amount of stigma against dark skinned people in India - just like in America. Bollywood and Hollywood reflect that.

    Posted by: mcgill | Apr 30, 2014 12:45:07 PM


  7. I love this!

    Posted by: HÃ¥kon | Apr 30, 2014 12:46:43 PM


  8. This is rather momentous, especially for India and everywhere else where BABIES ARE MANDATORY and tradition is everything.

    Three cheers for a changing world!

    Posted by: UFFDA | Apr 30, 2014 12:50:52 PM


  9. What a stunningly beautiful couple!

    Posted by: Rad | Apr 30, 2014 12:55:06 PM


  10. @Woody - India is actually quite racist.

    It is the result of the Indo-Aryan migrations 3,500 years ago, which established the caste system which put the lighter skinned European invaders at the top and the darker skinned indigenous people at the bottom. This attitude was reinforced during the Raj, when British racism consistently put people with lighter skin into positions of power and authority while ignoring those with darker skin.

    The end result has been a very strong, millennium old link between a family's wealth and power, and the color of their skin. Bollywood actors are typically lighter skinned because they are the ones with the resources to study acting, dance and music. The characters they pay are typically rich and powerful so there is a widespread audience expectation that the actors portraying them would have light skin. This is changing, of course, but it remains very widespread.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Apr 30, 2014 12:59:56 PM


  11. I have only the most anecdotal evidence to confirm this - but the one Indian guy I know pretty well is from a powerful Indian family (and he had to give up a high government position when he was outted as a loathed gay). He's just about the most racist person I know. He's fairly dark skinned (actually I think his complexion color is quite beautiful), but is totally ga-ga about light skinned boys, and is so vile and hating toward anyone with darker skin than himself. Beautiful skin color or not, that makes him pretty ugly in my book.

    Posted by: Zlick | Apr 30, 2014 1:06:21 PM


  12. Good to know everything can be solved with a Conga Line.

    FYI - India is NOT racist, they are very class conscious. You are born into your caste and aspire to go up, although that can't happen until the next life. So people trying to do it quicker (in this life) are looked down on as upstarts - or worse.

    Mexico in the 1600s and 1700s was much the same way.

    Posted by: Steve Talbert | Apr 30, 2014 1:23:23 PM


  13. Pink is the navy blue of India. Gorgeous colors!

    Posted by: hugo | Apr 30, 2014 1:29:03 PM


  14. @Steve Talbert - Skin color and caste are very closely linked. It is no accident that the Brahmin and other high castes have lighter skin, while the Dalit ("Untouchables") all have much darker skin.

    When class and skin color go hand in hand, being "class conscious" IS racist.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Apr 30, 2014 1:36:43 PM


  15. @ Gregory in Seattle. I agree. The caste system is racist and elitist.

    Posted by: John P. | Apr 30, 2014 2:24:28 PM


  16. "The caste system is racist and elitist"? Duh. The caste system is utterly, fundamentally, wholly, and virulently racist and elitist. It's flagrantly founded on Brahminical/Hindu concepts of inherent inequality.

    The whole of Hindu-Indian culture must be fundamentally turned on its head to even begin the process of universal emancipation. As a "democracy" with 40 million "untouchables" India is both a ludicrously repulsive joke, but also a try.

    Many liberal Westerners do not seem to realize that there is simply no way around a real democracy in the full Western sense, not if people hope to have an inherent right to choose their own destiny, i.e. to vote for leaders and changes of ones choice.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Apr 30, 2014 4:10:42 PM


  17. Andy is a mofo, why has he blocked me from commenting?

    Posted by: FuckYouAndy | Apr 30, 2014 4:32:46 PM


  18. @Uffda - It is not just Hinduism: the caste system is so socially embedded that it exists even in Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Sikh communities. Nor is it limited to just the country of India, as it exists in various forms in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as well.

    Posted by: Gregory in Seattle | Apr 30, 2014 5:53:11 PM


  19. well, this video doesn't address the caste system, which i agree is racist and elitist, but it homophobia. It is a step in the right direction and even if it has just a tiny effect it is still a good thing. and while the actors are quite handsome, they are also very brave considering the rampant homophobia in indian culture and the reason for this video.

    Posted by: ian | Apr 30, 2014 6:57:30 PM


  20. It's certainly very Bollywood, with songs and dance expressing everything and a focus on celebrations and lifestyles that are a distant dream for most Indians.

    And here by lifestyles, I mean they're filthy rich and can afford celebrations like this. It's also pretty unlikely that the family wouldn't have a pretty strong inkling that Sir's "special friend" is a guy.

    The dressed up dog is cute, though, and I can't fault the motivations.

    Posted by: Paul R | Apr 30, 2014 10:33:14 PM


  21. Thanks guys for the explanations of the relationship of Hinduism, caste, and color. Obviously a lot more to it, but nice primer.

    Posted by: emjayay | May 1, 2014 1:05:22 AM


  22. That was cute.
    Isn't that melody, "Polly Wolly Doodle all Day"?

    Posted by: John | May 1, 2014 1:54:44 AM


  23. Interesting that one of the repeated lines in this is "kabhi khushi kabhie gham," which means "sometimes sadness, sometimes joy" but which is also the title of one of the biggest Bollywood blockbusters of the past 20 years. the plot of that movie concerned the struggle between respecting family and tradition versus marrying for love (in a heterosexual context, but still in a way that strains tradition). The advertising tagline for the movie was "It's all about loving your parents." It is pretty smart of them to call on and reinterpret something that would be a common cultural experience for their intended audience.

    Posted by: Thomasina | May 1, 2014 12:46:43 PM


  24. Interesting that one of the repeated lines in this is "kabhi khushi kabhie gham," which means "sometimes sadness, sometimes joy" but which is also the title of one of the biggest Bollywood blockbusters of the past 20 years. the plot of that movie concerned the struggle between respecting family and tradition versus marrying for love (in a heterosexual context, but still in a way that strains tradition). The advertising tagline for the movie was "It's all about loving your parents." It is pretty smart of them to call on and reinterpret something that would be a common cultural experience for their intended audience.

    Posted by: Thomasina | May 1, 2014 12:46:43 PM


  25. I love Indian weddings. Awesome 3 day blow outs. The music, the food, the dancing, the ceremonies, the vows, the tears,the joy & laughter,the fun.. And the handsome men.. Wow wow wowie...

    Posted by: Patrick | May 8, 2014 4:14:15 AM


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