I had the honour to meet Padma Shri Deepa Malik at a talk show where she was the panellist. Yes, there were many other renowned panellists at the talk –“Inside the Mind of an Indian Woman”, but I felt an instant connection with her warm personality.
Deepa Malik carries herself unapologetically and speaks so powerfully that I was mesmerized by her.
“My body may be paralyzed but my soul isn’t,” Deepa Malik said smilingly and with a glint in her eyes. It didn’t matter that she was paralyzed waist down and moved around on a wheelchair, what mattered was how she lived every moment of her life and enjoyed them. As a sportswoman she had convincingly defeated paralysis. She was rightfully awarded the Khel Ratna Award in 2019.
The talk “Inside the Mind of an Indian Woman” was organized by News Intervention, a startup media organization. Apart from Deepa Malik the other co-panelists at this talk were: Dr Bijayalaxmi Nanda, Acting Principal of Miranda House, Delhi University and Ms. Prabha Rao, retired IPS and intelligence officer.
During panel discussions at the talk, Deepa Malik revealed that she regularly goes for swimming and biking. “I am now learning to swim into the sea, and ‘am also finding solutions for those who are in need and looking for help,” she explained to the audience who were amazed at her grit and determination.
Breaking of stereotypical boundaries has always been Deepa Malik’s central thought. Her unease towards the glitzy advertisement world was unnerving as she talked about how objectification and commodification works behind the camera. She shared an anecdote about how she was once ridiculed by a big honcho of the advertisement world, who said that a crippled body with a disability doesn’t help in advertisements. Rather than lament about this incidence, Deepa Malik made a strong case for advertisements that break stereotypes.
Deepa Malik believes in reaching out to the rural community to highlight the positives and simultaneously show the truth behind patriarchal mindset. In the future, she intends to write a book which can bring about a positive impact on the civilization.
Deepa Malik’s life and her struggles are an inspiration. There are millions of women who did not give up on their dreams and go through a similar struggle and yet their story remains unknown. News Intervention has made an initiative to recognize these women through their “Breaking Barriers Award”. The startup media company will soon announce the finer details and the different categories for this award.