International PR firm Edelman has released Words of a Generation: India – a seven episode film series that explores the lives of 10 Indians born after the ’75-’77 Emergency during which Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a unilateral state of emergency across the country.
Defined as India’s “Crossroad Generation”, the films are personal portraits of people who grew up in an India that fundamentally questioned and challenged many of the basic foundations on which previous generations lived their lives. They learned to walk as India opened to the world. They experimented with adolescent identity as an explosion of media brought with it new ideas about life and love. They embarked on new careers as India’s economic rise encouraged them to take risks their parents might never have considered.
Conceptualised in 2012 by Edelman, Words of a Generation was developed as a framework to use ethnographic exploration to understand the societal and individual changes that affect the needs, desires and values of today. Edelman has filmed in-depth interviews with participants in their homes on themes ranging from love and dreams to technology and travel where the past, present and future perspectives of interviewees were explored across Asia.
Cornelia Kunze, Vice Chairman, Edelman Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, said, “With Words of a Generation, we hope to encourage awareness of the complex experiences that live within the margins of a published report or data set and shape the people marketers often know only as ‘the consumer’. Since the first exploration in China, we have taken our research and film crew to Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and now, India, to create intimate portraits of participants from generations in each country that have lived through similarly profound changes in society.”
Amanda Mooney, Senior Strategic Planner and Creator/Producer of Words of a Generation, said: “Words of a Generation: India is beautiful and intensely moving. Words often build bridges into unexplored regions and that’s exactly what we are attempting to do with these films. We traveled to the homes of Varun, Medha, Manil, Anjali, Arvind, Charu, Raghav and Kirthi this past February when elections and the future of the country weighed heavy on the hearts of people across the country. The 10 participants, who come from diverse backgrounds and experience, have painted a very vibrant picture of the past and their expectations from the future. Their stories are individual but the insights they share are very familiar.”
Mooney added: “We decided to use video as a medium as it is the most effective and intimate way to let our participants be seen or heard. We are making the entire Words of a Generation series available online so that anyone from any country can step into the personal world of people who feel deeply and strongly about what influences them and how they can influence change themselves.”
While much has been written about the change India’s Crossroad Generation will bring to the country and their own lives, what has it really been like for these 10 people to live through change, and what do they really need and want now?
The participants described the experience of seeing their parents live by society’s rules while a “sea of transformation” around them encouraged a “soft rebel” to be born. They shared intimate accounts of their own struggles for independence and space. As one participant succinctly put it, “We’re living in a generation where we’re spoilt for choices. We don’t really know what we want and what we don’t.”
They described the jealousy of social happiness, the confusion of choice and the pressure of a life where they are “always running.” They questioned the true meaning of “value and tradition” in a society where they sometimes find “less commitment in a committed relationship,” growing issues with corruption and gender inequality and escalating tensions surrounding religion and caste.
In the words of one of the participants: “To me, values and traditions means that people need to grow up and respect women or people in general. That is value and tradition. It’s not about wearing the right clothes.”
Words of a Generation: India is the final installment of the Words of a Generation series.
The complete Words of a Generation: India series is available at: http://wordsofageneration.co/the-films-india