BENGALURU : Do you remember Seth, who goes by the name Dude with a sign on Instagram? Seth lives in New York, and stands on the corner of a busy SoHo holding a placard in his hands with a message on it. There have been many who have tried out this idea – to spread a message, sometimes even for fun. But here in Bengaluru, actor-producer-director Mahesh Gowda borrowed the idea to spread awareness about vitiligo, a topic that comes from his personal experience and one he is truly passionate about.
His first campaign was in Koramangala where the message said, “Vitiligo never stopped me from becoming a director, producer & actor. What is stopping you?” The placard campaign is about normalising the condition and breaking the stereotype. Calling it a successful first attempt, Gowda says, “Many people who were on the street responded to me and opened up about their knowledge on this condition.” He plans to do this campaign every 15 days with different statements on the placard on motivation and vitiligo.
He was on the street, holding the placard for about 30-45 minutes. “I started walking across the street holding the placard and then people started noticing me and were very curious about what I was doing. It even surprised them when they realised I come from the movie industry. They looked me up on the internet,” laughs Gowda, adding that he also encountered a girl with vitiligo. “She was extremely introverted and was speechless for some time. And to be fair, that is how those with vitiligo are. When I mentioned I am into movies, she was taken aback,” he adds.
The kind of insecurities that those with vitiligo go through differ from age to age and it is directly dependent on the surroundings they are in. Even if he is preaching about normalising the stigma around the skin condition, which has no cure so far, he has had his inhibitions about going on the street and baring his scars. “For any person, irrespective of age and background, it is difficult to go on the street to show their vitiligo marks. I have been planning for months to do it but even I had my inhibitions. Finally, I pushed myself to do it. Otherwise, I can’t set an example,” says Gowda, whose latest movie Bili Chukki Halli Hakki, opposite Vaishnavi Gowda, will be out soon.