As a fan of Bollywood-style dance — and other forms of Oriental and Middle Eastern dance — I was tickled to find this video from United Nations Free and Equal, and I wanted to share.
UN Free and Equal officials said this week that since being released on April 30 this video — “The Welcome” — has become one of the most-watched UN videos ever, with more than a million views so far on YouTube.
The video stars Indian actress Celina Jaitly, who last year was nominated by the UN high commissioner for human rights as a “UN equality champion” in recognition of her support for LGBT equality. The video marks her musical debut as she sings a new version of the 1979 Bollywood classic, Uthe Sab Ke Kadam. The song was recomposed and remixed by Neeraj Shreedhar of the Bombay Vikings, and produced in association with the music company Saregama India.
The video’s dance sequences were choreographed by Longi (Slumdog Millionaire), who worked on the project for free. The concept was developed by creative agency Curry Nation.
“For the UN, using a Bollywood tune to advocate for human rights is a novel approach that’s paid off,” said Charles Radcliffe, chief of global issues at the UN Human Rights Office. “The video’s message of love, family and acceptance could not be timelier. We are enormously grateful to everyone who worked for free to create this video, especially our starring equality champion, Celina Jaitly.”
Jaitly said, “It has been an honor for me to partner with the UN and contribute my musical debut to this cause, which has been a very important part of my life as an activist for LGBT rights. … I have been overwhelmed by the positive response [the video has] been generating, including from many gay people in Asia who tell me they have shown it to their own parents, or to their brothers and sisters, friends and co-workers. Change often begins with difficult conversations and this was our attempt to bring forth a difficult conversation in a wonderful light hearted way through the universal language of music.”
The UN’s Free and Equal campaign aims to raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, and encourage greater respect for the rights of LGBT people. The campaign, which had its global launch in South Africa in July 2013, is led by the UN Human Rights Office and has strong backing from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The campaign also benefits from the support of a several celebrity UN Equality Champions, including South African singer and “Princess of Africa” Yvonne Chaka Chaka, American hip hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin, Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly, Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury, and members of the U.S. band fun.