Bollywood ladies talk about Women’s Day

Shabana Azmi
Shabana AzmiWhat it means to be a woman, what changes we need to bring about Bollywood’s women tell us on Women’s Day.

Shabana Azmi: “Separate but Equal / Different but Equal surely must become the axiom for Women’s Day. Men and Women are different. I’m not saying better or worse but different and this difference needs to be celebrated. For far too long, solutions to all problems have sought to be resolved by men. Women are saying, ‘we constitute half the world and our voice must be included in the global dialogue that is taking place, whether in politics, the arts or in business, etc. I salute the women’s movement for creating the space that has allowed many of us to walk the untrodden path. But we must remember with shame that there are pockets in our country where female feticide is still being practiced. The number of women we lose due to pregnancy-related issues in one year is the same as having 400 airplane crashes a year! Govts would fall if that were the case but because its poor rural women who are dying nobody pays the slightest attention…All this and more must change. Women must be placed at the centre of development because empowerment of women is the true yardstick of a Nation’s progress. Being a woman for me is essentially mastering the art of multitasking, being a care-giver to parents, kids, spouse. Paying attention to detail, lubricating the mundaneness of everyday living. But above all being a woman means being informed by my gender and playing the game differently and negotiating more space for all women. The personal is political – there is no getting away from that. The woman I admire most is my mother Shaukat Kaifi who has been a wonderful wife, mother housekeeper but most importantly, her own person and a noted theatre actor. She found the perfect balance. I find inspiration from my maid who washes our dishes so her daughters can go to English school, from women who work in the fields and factories. More power to women.”

Neetu Chandra: “Being a woman per se is a complete high. For me being a woman is about the right mixture of strength and passion. Just being a woman makes me feel complete. And I’m sure many women would agree with me on that. As for the changes in my life this Women’s Day there’s nothing that I want changed. I take life as it comes and suggest all women do the same. It makes life easier. Which woman inspires me? Every woman who stands on her own feet and keeps a right balance between her professional and personal life is my inspiration.”

Aditi Rao Hydari: “Being a woman means turning every negative into a positive, loving and caring and living life with grace dignity and mustering a great inner strength in the toughest and gentlest of circumstances. In most societies women are taught to hide their inherent sensuality grace and beauty. Every woman must be allowed to be herself. Speaking for cinema I wish our movies wouldn’t objectify women. There’s so much more to being a woman. I’m inspired by any woman who has worked with passion and lived with grace. There are so many unsung women who do that every day. They are my heroes.”

Pooja Bedi: “Being a woman is the most complete experience. We embody and express naturally the qualities of nurturing and empathy, gentleness and compassion and an incredible inner strength. We are Laxmi, Saraswati, Parvati, Durga and Kali. Personally on this Women’s Day I see no need for change, as I feel I possess a great yin and yang balance. Professionally I’d like to do another talk-show to inspire women to live their lives to their full potential and remove all biases and unhealthy conformities. I also want to create more awareness about female feticide and gender bias. The woman I find most inspiring? Angelia Jolie. She lives life to the fullest, fearlessly, looks fabulous, is hugely successful and does a lot of humanitarian work.”

Alisha Chinai: “The only way to get power is to give it away. No one understands this more than a woman. She has the ultimate unimaginable power. Without women there would be no men! Changes in my life? None! I love the male side of my personality. And the soft feminine side helps me to get away with murder. The women who inspire me? Sonia Gandhi, Eva Peron, Madonna.”

Lilette Dubey: “For me being a woman means that I have the power of Durga and Shakti …the power to be a force. The power to be multifaceted. I’m lucky to be born to play so many roles in real and reel life. As I get older my ambitions grow in direct proportion. I’d like to expand the scope of my activities, explore new talents, maybe make a film, write a book, cut an album. I’d love to be a grandmom. I’ve always been inspired by Meryl Streep’s versatile talent and innate goodness.”

Raima Sen: “Being a woman for me means a number of things. Independence, strength, grace, determination….I’d like to do more roles of substance, stronger characters. On a personal level, I’d like to be more resolute and go out there to make a difference. The woman who inspires me most is my grandmother Suchitra Sen.”

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