By Subhash K Jha
BOLLYWOOD: It promises to be the biggest blockbuster ever. And the one orchestrating this mega-opus is Shabana Azmi.
The Big B Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Ranbir Kapoor and Siddharth Malhotra would be walking the ramp for Shabana on April 1 at the Grand Hyatt as part of the actress-activist’s endeavour to fund the education and other necessities of the weavers in the village of Mijwan.
Apparently, Big B readily agreed to walk the ramp for Shabana’s NGO for the welfare of the Mijwan weavers. However he was not kicked by the idea of being removed by generation barriers from the other actors who’d walk in Manish Malhotra’s clothes on April 1.
The theme for the evening would be ‘Mijwan For Men’. Shabana sees this as a fruition of her father’s wish to see men and women walk shoulder to shoulders in every walk of life.
Says Shabana, “I didn’t even dare suggest to Mr Bachchan that he was the oldest of the five generations of actors walking the ramp . Because to me his energy level equals that of the youngest actor Siddharth Malhotra of the group who would walk the ramp that evening.”
While the Big B has shared screen space with Akshay Kumar, Farhan and even Ranbir(for a scene and song in Bhootnath Returns) this would be the first time that Siddharth Malhotra would get to be on the same platform as the Big B.
Malhotra is frequently compared with the Big B.
Says Shabana, “Siddharth looks similar to the young Mr Bachchan from Anand and Parwana. It would be interesting to see them together walking the ramp. What is unique about this event is that iconic male stars from different generations will be walking the ramp for the empowerment of women in rural India.THE MAN CARES FOR THE WOMAN is the message we wish to convey. There is much greater awareness today that for a healthy society male participation in women’s empowerment is the need of the hour.”
More than 60 years ago Shabana’s father the great Kaifi Azmi wrote in his poem AURAT:
“Qadr ab tak teri tareeq ney jaani hi nahi
Tujhmein sholay bhi hain bas ashkfishani hi nahi
Tu haqeeqat bhi hai dilchasp kahani hi nahi
Teri hasti bhi ik cheez jawani hi nahi
Apni tareeq ka unvaan badalna hai tujhe
Uth meri jaan mere saath hi chalna hai tujhe…
Not only tears,there are glowing embers within you
Not fables alone there is a reality to you
Not only your youth, your existence has value too.
You have to change the course of your history
Rise my love! You have to come walk with me)
The project, says Shabana, is her dream come true.
“As you are aware Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS)is an NGO founded by my father Kaifi Azmi to empower rural India with a focus on the girlchild and women which is now run by me and my god-child Namrata Goyal. We are having a Fundraising fashion show MEN FOR MIJWA By MANISH MALHOTRA showcasing the chikankari of our Mijwan girls on 1st April 2014 at Grand Hyatt in Mumbai at 9pm.”
The project has come a long way and Shabana looks back with a lot of pride. “When we started we had one embroidery centre in Mijwan. Today we have ten centres across UP and counting… The girls and women now have a livelihood because of which their status within the family has changed. They are saying no to marriage before the age of 18, have opened bank accounts in their names and they are being looked upon as assets not liabilities. It’s a huge mindset transformation in a patriarchal society.”