Last week, Breakthrough India, released an extremely catchy video titled “Urvashi Urvashi”. A reworking of the old song by AR Rahman, the new song has the same tune as the old one, but with a different set of lyrics, addressing issues of patriarchy and other matters pertaining to women like consent, breaking glass ceilings, living one’s life to the fullest and premarital sex.
The song and video, are excellent examples of using social media, for social change. By reworking a popular number, the video ensures that more people are curious to listen and see this new version, and generating awareness and conversation about relevant issues.
While the video was well received, amassing about 50k views, what is most appalling and disturbing is that it was a victim of the same misogynistic nature of society which it addressed. The makers were trolled and received hate messages across social media. The trolling reached such an extent that Breakthrough had to release an official statement, responding to it.
Having collaborated with social media giants Facebook and Twitter on issues of counterspeech and online safety, we understand that social media is a dual edged sword. While it gives organizations and individuals a wide platform to convey their thoughts and ideas, and reach out to a large number of people, it also makes them vulnerable to negative reactions, and hate speech. We, at Centre for Social Research, stand by Breakthrough, and commend them for their excellent initiative. We hope that the hate speech doesn’t deter others from portraying their ideas creatively, and that those in disagreement find better and more acceptable ways to voice their criticism.