With over 30 artistes coming together to celebrate love and unity in the country as part of "India My Valentine", actress Swara Bhasker says the aim of the initiative is to take the conversation beyond an "echo chamber" and reach out to the masses.
"India My Valentine", organised by Swara, producer Aditi Anand, activist Fahad Ahmad and Mitali Bhasin, began on February 14 in Delhi and will culminate in Mumbai on February 16.
In an interview, Swara says it is time to include those who don't subscribe to the "ideology of hate" but aren't into aggressive protests either. "Everything has become an echo chamber, everyone's talking to people who are already convinced. It's time to come out of that. The atmosphere is so polarised, there are people who are going for the protests, they are already there, but there is a population that may not subscribe to the ideology of hate but aren't interested in hard-core aggressive politics, protests.
"Those are the people we should also reach out to. We live in the same country. How long can we keep having this terrible polarised high pitched fighting?"
The initiative, which also travels to Kolkata, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, will see a host of artistes performing, including actors Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Vishal Bhardwaj, Rekha Bhardwaj, Swanand Kirkire, Aamir Aziz, Sumukhi Suresh among others.
"People may not come for protest but they'll come for celebration. They'll not come for a political speech but they'll come for stand-up, music. The idea is to go for softer packaging. To remember what divides and unites us.
"As children, apart from loving our family, the first thing that we learnt to love is our country. We thought of it like how India is our first Valentine," Swara says.
The actress says "India My Valentine" is not a protest, but a celebration and one, where there is no room for hate. "Ultimately we do have to reach a place of some kind of consensus about the country we want to see. This isn't a protest, it's a celebration. We believe in the constitution, we don't subscribe to an ideology of hate, we believe in the unity, integrity and territorial sanctity of India. Everyone is welcome, but just don't bring any hate," she adds.
Proceeds from the event will be split between organisations working towards welfare of the widows of war veterans and empowerment of women in public spaces.