Section 377 is a draconian law in India that criminalizes sexual relations “against the order of nature.” In 2009, the High Court of Delhi decriminalized the law as it pertains to sex between consenting adults, but in 2013, the Supreme Court overturned that ruling and said it should be a matter left to parliament. It is in this environment that Vicks’ new ad takes place.
The three and a half minute-long commercial is the story of Gauri Sawant, a transgender woman who raised an orphaned child as her own. The ad begins by highlighting the bond the daughter shares with her mother without showing Sawant—demonstrating that love is the force which binds us together more so than any arbitrary, hate-filled law. It ends with her daughter highlighting the struggles her mother faces, and how that has affected her own ambitions.
Neeraj Ghaywan—the director of the ad—told Newsd “I was instantly excited about being a part of this project when I learned that the agency wanted it to be based on Gauri Sawant’s story. I worked with them to arrive at a narrative form to talk about her life. It has been one of the most fulfilling, inspiring and humbling experiences of my life to work on this commercial.”
Check out the ad below, and make sure you have a box of tissues nearby.
Sawant is an activist, and if you’d like to learn more, you can check out her Facebook page where she shares her experiences advocating on behalf of this incredibly marginalized community in India, and has a 100% response rate for those who want to get in touch with her.
Check out this fun video from her Facebook of her performing with Laxmi Narayan Tripathi and Madhuri.
Jacob Weindling is Paste’s business and media editor, as well as a staff writer for politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.