Bold & the Beautiful – Laxmi Aggarwal
While Bollywood fans await Deepika Padukone’s ‘Chhapaak’ to hit the screens, Laxmi lived the story that inspired the movie and continues to imbibe courage from it. She is no stranger to challenges — as a woman and as an acid attack survivor. Instead of hiding away in the darkness, she chose to step out into the limelight and fight for what she thinks is right — and now that fight has been given an even bigger voice by some of the most influential celebrities in India. In an exclusive interview with Beauty Launchpad India’s Isha Gakhar, the inspiring woman shares her thoughts on beauty, feminism and more.
2019 Plans: Last year in June, I started the campaign ‘Stop Sale Acid’ to spread awareness about how acid is easily available at local shops despite the courts ruling against it in 2013. There are many shopkeepers without the relevant license openly selling this harmful substance. Acid has been used to commit some of the most heinous crimes of our time — yet, the law is barely being implemented. So, my focus this year would be on this campaign where we reach out to people and ask them to make a one minute video to spread awareness about irresponsible acid sales. As a part of the campaign, we have also been visiting shopkeepers, asking them why they sell acid, educating them about the law, and also giving them a certificate for promising to stop selling acid from their shops. We have covered five states till now and hope to expand to others in 2019.
About Chhapaak: I met Meghna (Gulzar) back in 2016 and it took time to write the story. Finally, when Deepika (Padukone) was confirmed for the lead role and even stepped in to produce the film, it was a great feeling. Because, when a celebrity talks about any sensitive issue like acid-attack, it becomes more powerful. It isn’t an easy subject to tell a story about acid attack survivors and the things they had to go through — so, this film is an achievement for all the survivors. It will give them more courage as more people in society will be informed of this reality.
Feminism: Feminism to me is all about empowerment and women are already empowered — they just need to realise it and see that they are equal. People find pride in things like “1 female among 10 male pilots” – why? The respect is gone when you say, “she achieved so much despite being a woman” — as if being a woman makes you naturally weaker. That’s not true — we have always been strong but were convinced that we are not as strong as a man. Feminism seeks respect for equality and that benefits men too — because you’ll hear how brave a woman who survived acid-attack is but never about a man who survived domestic violence. I want equality and when people realise the real meaning behind it, respect will follow.
Beauty: To me, my work is Beauty. If they focussed only on outer beauty, people would have never liked my work. Beauty is expressed through your actions.