Like a lot of westerners, I am not familiar with it. I can only base my personal impression on a few snippets that I’ve seen. That impression: Bollywood movies are colorful and musical. That’s about all I know.
That, and the movies are probably among the most highly watched in the world, even with their modest budgets and high rate of release.
If you asked me to name a star of the Bollywood industry, I’d be at a loss, though.
When I was trying to think of innovators and difference makers to feature on Zoombubba, I checked to see if there were any waves being made in the realm of animal welfare.
At the top of the list was Athiya Shetty.
Now, I have not seen any of Shetty’s movies, nor could I name any without a Google search. But, with the scant amount of information I have, I’d say she has made an impression on me already.
Shetty, who is 24, is reportedly setting up a foundation to help prevent cruelty to animals. Shetty has only starred in one movie so far. The movie, Hero, was a hit in India and led to Shetty winning the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, which is the highest award in Indian cinema. Her second film, Mubarakan, comes out later this year.
Animal welfare as been a growing concern in India, which has seen a population explosion.
While India’s culture is heavily influenced by both Hinduism and Islam, both of which condemn cruelty to both humans and animals, the fast pace urbanization of the country is changing the culture just as rapidly.
The targets of animal cruelty in India are those that live in the cities. Cats and dogs, like many other places in the world, are facing an overpopulation crisis, with many living in the streets. These street animals make easy victims for humans to either take out their own problems on or engage in sadism.
In 2016 alone, there were three prevalent cases extreme cruelty that made waves in the country. One video featured of a group of teenagers in Hyderabad burning three puppies alive. Another showed an incident in Chennai in which two medical students threw a dog from the rooftop of a building and filmed the act. In another incident, a police horse died after being beaten allegedly by a politician, at a rally in Dehradun.
This isn’t just India, of course. It happens in the west for the same reasons: Ownerless animals make easy targets for cruelty.
India’s prevention of cruelty to animals act dates back to 1960 and has never been amended. It imposes a maximum fine of 50 rupees for those who commit such acts of animal abuse.
Apparently, she has been interested in working in social causes for a number of years. The thing that probably sets her apart from other people her age is not that she’s young and interested in making a difference, but that she likely has the means to make that difference.
According to BollywoodHungama.com
Athiya spoke about her dream foundation adding, “My mum is involved in a lot of NGO work. She is the best person to help me with this, as she has a lot of knowledge. We aim to look after their well-being, be it providing them with shelter or taking care of their health. We will also rescue animals that are injured.”
It is heartening to see someone with such a high profile actually move to make a difference. We’re often used to seeing stars more concerned with publicity seeking and flaunting their wealth. With someone like Shetty, you have a voice that speaks to a younger demographic in which that demographic will listen to.
I wish her luck in this endeavor.