BENGALURU: Social media exists but more for image building than sharing your opinions, believes holistic lifestyle coach and dancer Vasantha Vaikunth. She recently launched a platform called Just Speak, that gives people an opportunity to express, discuss and debate social issues. “Unlike social media, I wanted a platform that allows you two-way dialogue with meaningful conversation,” says Vaikunth.
In the two sessions conducted online thus far, speakers discussed mental wellness and marriage. Participants joined from different countries, including USA, UK, UAE, Singapore and Sri Lanka. Explaining the need for such a platform, Vaikunth says social media may be a good way to network but conversations lack purpose. “Even WhatsApp groups can leave you stressed. But at Just Speak, the idea was to bring back old-time style of debates where the speaker comes well-prepared and has points of substance to make,” she says.
The next two sessions will focus on media and parenting, respectively. While the format takes place online due to the ongoing pandemic, the aim is to conduct this as a live conversation once things resume normalcy. “I want it to go offline so that there is more scope for human touch and more interactions and questions,” adds Vaikunth, who is also the chairperson of All Ladies League South India Performing Arts and the Karnataka president of Culture and Heritage Council of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The platform is not the only thing keeping Vaikunth occupied in these times. Having always wished to act, the classical dancer’s dream came true during the lockdown. She was approached by a producer friend from Chennai, Beena Unnikrishnan, to play a role in a short film that was being made in 13 languages. Vaikunth played the role of a mother in the Tamil version of the film, called An Interval, which is now available on YouTube.
“The mother lives in a village while her daughter lives abroad. But the Covid time helps them forge a deeper bond,” explains Vaikunth, adding that the actors shot their parts separately. Vaikunth is also working on a book on ancient life skills for youngsters. Though this has been a busy time, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m a people’s person, so this situation affected me for some weeks. But then I found it to be a blessing because I could indulge my creative passions more,” she says.