What’s the most remarkable thing about Unblushed’s “Find Your Beautiful”? Of course, the message is powerful, and it makes you reach for the tissues realising how harsh you were on yourself growing up, trying to conform to an unrealistically and unfairly lofty standard of perfection and beauty. But that’s not it.
Sure, the words are simple and strung with the cords of a hardened heart, which was bruised, cheated and healed over and over again, until it knew better. But that’s not it, either.
The genius of this campaign lies in the fact that in less than four and a half minutes, it explained, with utmost attention to detail, the entire cycle of this farce. When and how you start learning, and how and why you must unlearn. Here is how this video breaks down the concept, and tells you through very well thought-out frames, composition, casting and words, you’re beautiful:
This world, it catches you young. Even before you learn its ways, your fingers learn how to operate a remote control then, and a tablet now. Even before your mouth learns to form words and words into questions, your eyes learn to observe the world as a fantasy land with seven Insta filters on, and your mind conditions itself to aspire towards that glossed reality. It is important to first teach your four-year-old self what beautiful means, delight in the after-effects of flooding her with positivity, as you watch the magic unfold, when she discovers, over the years, how beautiful she is.
“Agar apne aap ko 25 saal pehle mil paati, toh chhoti Radhika se kya kehti? Shayad bas, do shabd. You’re beautiful,” says badi Radhika from the video.
Remember the ballet Swan Lake where you ogled at the princess effortlessly jeté across the stage, looking like she spent the past week at the spa, or the Barbie dolls whose hair you spent hours brushing and dressing to make their curvy, fair and blue-eyed perfection even more flawless… the fire was lit then.
“Your eyes? They’re beautiful. Woh kaali ya jheel si neeli nahi hai jaise stupid romantic novels mein hota hai. Dark brown hai. Kabhi notice kiya hai? Jaise halke roasted badam.
Tumhare baal. Bikhre, uljhe, tumse kaeen zyada ziddi. Unhe suljhana mat.
Height kabhi chhoti nahi hoti, bass dekhne waale ka perspective hota hai,” she says.
Real women. From the real world. I know this for a fact, because I went to college with two of the “models” in this video! It might seem like an obvious, rudimentary detail to get right for a video like this, but it needs to be commended nonetheless. We still live in an age of fairness cream ads and weight loss products for new mums, where naturally fair models are paraded with four spotlights on them and 20-somethings are passed off as mothers of two. This video towers over messages like these.
Not only were the people real, so were their circumstances. The burkha-clad Muslim woman hoping to steal some moments of passion with her lover by the seaside, our chubby protagonist running amok without a care in the world, in a flurry of colours (that I feel, personifies her spirit)… suddenly, you start looking at these everyday sights in a new light. They look beautiful.
“Your body is beautiful. Woh badlegi, moody hogi. Aur khulke jeene ke bahot saare mauke degi. Unhe jee lena.”
As you enter the second half of the video, you have had at least eight of those ‘Glass-shattering’ moments from HIMYM, as you start noticing all the layers covering the truth that was kept from you, slowly fall away. When you are ready to break free, and find the knob on the camouflaged door like the iconic climax of The Truman Show, this helps you cross-over to reality.
“Tum badi hogi, toh tumhe log kahenge, tum well-behaved Indian girl jaisi nahi ho. Un logon se pehle, ‘well behaved’ ki definition poochna. Ya phir, ‘Indian’ ki, ya…‘Girl’ ki.” Deconstructing the most basic notions to see how everything is manmade and flimsy, and nothing is absolute and binding.
“Thode aur bade ho jaoge, toh rules bhi badhenge. Unhe, chupke se, todneki timing samajhna.” And by the time the lips of the couple graze, you realise, the only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.
Here’s the deal about Radhika Apte. She’s like the elder sister you never had. That didi next door you didn’t realise how much you want to be like, and how much you depended on for life-lessons. You see her grow from a perky teenager to a history major who brings home guy friends with really funky beards, and then starts a business that helps artisans regain their livelihood, and finally, marries a boy who looks at her with complete adoration. You can’t help but be drawn to her set of morals, because she is just like you, and you see how well everything worked out for her. She has broken every single rule in the Indian book about beauty, by entering this industry and carving a name for herself. When she was Ahalya, exuding raw sexuality in a mature relationship with an older man, I accepted that avatar of Indian women, with needs and desires and a mind of their own. Today, when she looked at me and told me I was beautiful, I believe her. Tomorrow, if she starts selling beard shampoo for women, I’ll stock those up for the year, too.
PS- Cutting the intensity with the ‘India World Cup jeet jayegi’ gag. Beautiful!