Dressed as a wounded bird wrapped in kite string and next to the tagline “Cut the Glass-Coated Manja, Not Birds’ Wings”, Bollywood beauty Jiah Khan appears in a brand-new ad for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India. Ace photographer Farrokh Chothia shot the ad. The release of the ad coincides with the festival of Makar Sankranthi, during which kites are flown using glass-coated manja. When manja falls on trees and electric poles, it cuts through the wings of birds who become entangled in it. Thousands of birds are maimed and killed by glass-coated manja every year.
The manja used for kite-flying competitions is gummed and coated with powdered and finely crushed glass. While this makes the manja extremely effective at cutting an opponent’s kite line, it is also deadly for thousands of pigeons, crows, owls and other birds who become entangled in it.
Glass-coated manja is also responsible for numerous human injuries and deaths every year, including passers-by travelling on bicycles, motorcycles or scooters. In such an incident in Mumbai, a stray manja nearly slit a man’s throat. According to news reports, the manja sliced into the man’s larynx and the surrounding muscles. Three people in Ahmedabad were decapitated by manjas on Makar Sankranthi.
British-born 20-year-old Jiah debuted in the controversial 2007 film Nishabd, in which she appeared opposite Bollywood veteran Amitabh Bachchan. Although the film received mixed reviews, Jiah was noted for her confidence and sex appeal. Jiah’s latest release Ghajini is one more jewel in her crown.
“Glass-coated manja is a public health hazard and causes an excruciating death for birds who get entangled in it”, says Jiah Khan. “We’re asking participants in the Makar Sankranthi contests and all kite-flying competitors to immediately stop using glass-coated manja and to conduct their sport in a way that isn’t deadly to humans and wildlife.”