She is known to make a strong statement wherever she goes and the Goafest2016 was no different. The first knowledge seminar of Day 3 at the Goafest was opened by Shobha De, author, columnist and social commentator, and she spoke about a subject which from time to time becomes a matter of raging debate in the country— intolerance.
Starting on a sarcastic note De said, “India is a very tolerant country, of course we are tolerant of corruption, dirt, people and politicians who disgrace us, rape and violence against women.” She went on to elaborate on recent events which raise questions on what kind of leaders the country has, beginning with Baba Ramdev’s remark on beheading people who refuse to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ to the Owaisis and what she called the ‘holy frauds’.
She asserted the need to be outspoken like herself when the situation demands it as opposed to allowing the indifference to take over, especially in issues like stopping women abuse. De emphasized on the role the advertising community has to play in making this happen, in highlighting the changing face of society and pointing out what’s wrong. De said, “The game-changers here are the advertising community. I am not saying that they can’t go wrong. Like in the case of the Pepsi commercial which became a huge controversy because of mocking student protests, allegedly poking fun at the FTII students. But I would like to give them the benefit of doubt, perhaps they were trying to create awareness in their own way. The ad community is brilliant in capturing the humour of the moment. They are also instrumental in changing the way women are portrayed on screen, a lot of recent ads have shown powerful women at the fore. In fact senior citizens have also got a different level of dignity because of sublime ads.”
Throwing light on how the youth in the industry are challenging the established norms, De said, “The young filmmakers are speaking in a fantastic language. The goody goody advertising has changed to a very large extent. I am very impressed with campaigns like ‘Unfair and Lovely’. However, I wish the ad industry collectively stops accepting the pan masala ads.” A former copywriter by profession, De then went on to question why there were so few women in top positions across the ad world, throwing open the question to all the top men from the advertising industry sitting in the audience.
At the end of the interaction De took questions from the audience, one that addressed the increasing role of branded content today. She was asked if she would agree to add some branded content in her columns to which she replied in jest, “Yes, I am a professional writer so depends on the money.” On a serious note however she added, “But I would not write about anything that would clash with my ideologies, in my column.”