Gulshan Grover urges crackdown on 'the real villains'

Gulshan Grover

Pointing to a photo of cattle cruelly cramped inside a truck and a handler stepping on a collapsed animal and next to the tagline "Stop the Real Villains: Stop Cruel Animal Transport", Bollywood "bad man" Gulshan Grover stars in a brand-new ad for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals India (PETA). Gulshan - who is best known for his chilling roles in countless Bollywood movies - wants Indian citizens to urge their local governments and police to take action against the illegal abuse of animals who are transported to slaughter for leather exported to the West. The stunning ad was shot by ace photographer Ashok Salian.

"I am a villain only on screen; however, there are real-life villains who treat animals badly, whether in Mumbai or New York", says Gulshan. "I urge India's citizens to help stop animals' needless suffering by insisting that their local governments and police enforce laws against cruel transport and poor treatment of animals by truly bad men."

Why is Gulshan's disgust with cattle transporters no act? Animals used by the leather industry are transported to states where they can legally be killed. Forced to walk through extreme heat and dust for days without food or water, many of the animals collapse. To keep them moving, handlers pull the cattle by ropes in the animals' noses; twist their necks, horns and tails; or rub chilli peppers into their eyes.

Cows, buffaloes, goats and sheep are crammed onto Lorries for transport to slaughter in such crowded conditions that many are gouged by the horns of others or suffer broken bones from being crushed. Many die en route, often from suffocation. At the abattoir, it is common for animals to be dragged inside and cut open with dull knives - often in full view of other animals, which is illegal. Some animals are skinned and dismembered while they are still conscious.

Leather producers blatantly ignore India's minimal animal protection laws for transport and slaughter, and although it claims to have an Animal Welfare Reform Programme, the Indian Council for Leather Exports refuses to take any action to prevent leather producers from obtaining hides and skins from unlicensed, illegal abattoirs. Animals of all ages, including small calves, are illegally transported and killed for their skins.

When PETA's campaign against the leather industry was launched in 2000, 40 major companies stated that they would not use leather sourced from Indian animals, resulting in losses totaling an estimated US$68 million. In addition to Gulshan Grover, PETA's campaign has also gained high-profile support from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Sir Paul McCartney, Pamela Anderson, Jackie Chan and others.

This isn't the first time that Gulshan has teamed up with PETA to speak out against the leather industry. In 2004, he shot a similar ad showing cows jam-packed in a lorry on their way to slaughter. That same year, he also starred in a PETA video ad, which was shot by renowned filmmaker Kailash Surendranath. In the ad, Gulshan orders someone off-camera to "deprive them of food and water, rub chilli peppers into their eyes if they collapse and then cram them onto Lorries and take them to be killed". Viewers soon learn that the victims of this cruelty are cows and buffaloes killed for their skins.

"The only way to truly ensure that you're not contributing to the suffering of animals killed for their skins and flesh is never to buy leather and adopt a healthy, delicious vegan diet", says Natasha Paul, Campaigns Coordinator for PETA India.

Top designers, such as Hemant Trevedi, Anita Dongre, Stella McCartney and others opt to use humane materials instead of leather for their creations.