When we stop the blame game

When we stop the blame game and realise that we are responsible, we make the government what it is TABU, Actor & iCONGO supporter in Indian Express for India empowered.

What empowers me is the ability to take decisions and stick by them. Then you can take complete responsibility for your action. I feel empowered when I see a decision of mine through with conviction. That’s very special because in our culture, we are trained and conditioned so that our decisions often come through so much from everyone around us—our family, peers and friends.

When I take that initiative, no matter what people say (because people will always say something or the other), it’s very empowering to see the outcome of your decision. It’s your own, it’s your baby, your achievement, your folly, your mistake.

In this phase of my life and career, this is what I feel. This is the sum total of the past few years. I have noticed that my best moments, my moments of strength have come from realising that this is what I have done—nobody can take the credit or the blame.

The whole idea of empowering women is really a paradox because it doesn’t really need to be that way. Nothing from the outside can empower a woman, she’s all about power herself. A woman is empowered when she understands, acknowledges and applies her own power. The last is the problem because you are very rarely told all the things that are good about you. We have to practise our power, apply our strength.

I practise it in my work, the strongest area of my life, it’s more important to me than anything, even love or a man. It’s bound to be, after all I have been working since I was 16, it’s occupied half my life. It’s my voice, the strength of an actor’s voice.

I don’t think we actors use our voices well enough. We don’t realise how powerful the echo of our voice really is. What you communicate, what you could give and what you are giving, it’s a great responsibility. When I was doing all those roles, people said they are so powerful. I didn’t realise what they meant, for me it was just a good role. But now I understand how you can use or misuse the power that you have.

I really didn’t know how far our work reaches until I was in New York for two months. I took a lot of taxi rides and everyone knows 95 per cent of taxi drivers there are Indians or Pakistanis. Everytime I sat in a taxi—and I’m sure every star has had that experience—they would refuse to take money from me and they were so moved that someone who’s on screen was actually riding in their cab.

I met people from all parts of India—from Punjab to Kashmir. They spoke about anything from terrorism or extramarital affairs, they had an opinion on the work I had done and how it impacted their lives.

It was so empowering to be away from home and meet people who admire you and pray for you. You could easily get overwhelmed by that, but when I told this to my mother or my friends they said you should feel strong.

It’s very empowering to encounter all that—it makes you understand the strength of your work, the power of your work. How one single person can reach out to so many people. I’ll never ever forget those taxi rides.

Of course, as people that the audience loves and looks up to, you have a great responsibility. What you say and convey through your roles is what you stand for. I don’t know if I have come to that stage yet—I’ve stood for many immoral issues too, but I’m glad I did because that’s all part of society and the people in our lives.

I know what I don’t stand for but I still haven’t come to fully understand what I stand for. When I figure that out that will be empowering. For now, I stand for my work, that’s what defines me. People are defined by what they do—I’ll always want to have something to do to define me. I would like to be known through my work, something of any kind of relevance, I’ll always have to be doing and engaging in something that I feel is important for me. What follows is only the offshoot.

It’s this conviction, that I am responsible for what I do, for much of what happens to me, which makes me believe that change in India—more employment, better infrastructure, better schools—will come only if we and the government work jointly. In fact, what will empower us, Indians, most is to stop our constant blame game and look within. Everyone has to take responsibility for the country—just as we all take responsibility for ourselves. Because we make the government what it is.

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