My Parody, My Mind, My Choice

So the internet is abuzz with Vogue’s latest ‘My Choice’ video starring Deepika Padukone and while the video has earned its fair share of brickbats, with social commentators such as Shobhaa De finding the video loathsome for its bland take on women empowerment, my curiosity in the matter was roused for a very different reason.

It appears that someone among the hoi polloi had made a mash-up of Vogue’s video incorporating bits from Govinda’s famous song ‘Meri Marzi’ titled ‘Rogue Empower’, a gesture which did not go down well with Conde Naste India (owner of the Vogue magazine in India) and YouTube removed the official spoof video, citing copyright infringement.

The video, in my opinion, was hilarious & innocuous. Most importantly, it was a parody! Section 52(1) (a) (ii) of the Copyright Act allows fair dealings in any work where they pertain to criticism or review of that work. Parodies have always been regarded as an exception to copyright infringement (We have covered ‘parody’ extensively on the blog here and here); I think that a claim for copyright infringement in this case would have been tenable had the copyright holders of Govinda’s song ‘Meri Marzi’ objected to the use of their song in the spoof video.

An irate Twitter user on finding that the spoof video had been removed from YouTube, said:

“Sigh, Govinda spoof of the Vogue Empower video is blocked now. Sense of humour toh hai nahi, empowerment karne chale”

— Sahil Rizwan (@SahilRiz)

In the present case, this is perhaps true. Where is our sense of humour? If our sensibilities are easily offended by a video as benign as the Govinda spoof, we need to take a nation pulse on whether we really want section 66A to go. Empowerment should not be restricted only to empowerment of the body, but should also extend to empowerment of the mind, where we are free to comment on works, bound only by the ties of propriety.

I think the lesson to take away from this is to be more tolerant to ‘spoofs’ and especially today of all days since it happens to be April Fools’ Day! On that note, Happy April Fools’ Day to All! 🙂

[Recently, another ‘My Choice’ parody video surfaced. This is a male version of Vogue’s ‘My Choice’ and features men talking about their choices for a change.]


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