Years after Kaifi Azmi wrote the moving poem "Aurat", envisioning women empowerment, his daughter, veteran actress and social activist Shabana Azmi, is bringing together Bollywood's iconic male actors like Amitabh Bachchan to walk for her NGO Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS) to support the cause.
Big B and Akshay Kumar
The idea, she says, is to convey that "the man cares for the woman".
Amitabh, Akshay Kumar, Farhan Akhtar, Ranbir Kapoor and Sidharth Malhotra - all belonging to different generations of the Hindi film industry - will walk the ramp to show their support towards emancipation of the female gender.
The show - Men For Mijwan by Manish Malhotra, is in support of MWS, an NGO founded by Shabana's father, a well-known poet.
"What is unique about the event is that iconic male stars from different generations, whom we are referring to as MEN OF STYLE 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. This is an idea whose time has come. There is much greater awareness today that for a healthy society, male participation in women's empowerment is the need of the hour," Shabana told IANS.
The aim of the NGO is to empower rural India with a focus on the girlchild and women, and it is now jointly run by Shabana and her godchild Namrata Goyal.
The fundraising fashion show will showcase creations made using chikankari art by Mijwan girls. It will be held April 1 at the Grand Hyatt here.
"It is very heartening that my colleagues in the film industry whom we approached, were all aware of Mijwan and warmed up to the idea and I am truly indebted to them for their support," Shabana said.
"In fact, they have been forward in spite of gruelling film schedules. Some will come straight from their shooting, while some need to go back for a night shift, but they are accommodating us because the issue is so important," she added.
Citing an excerpt from her father's poem "Aurat", she said that he wrote:
"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."
Women empowerment is a subject very close to Shabana's heart, and she is happy with the way Mijwan has grown from strength to strength over the years.
"When we started, we had one embroidery centre in Mijwan. Today we have 10 centres across Uttar Pradesh and we're still counting. The girls and women now have a livelihood because of which their status within the family has changed," Shabana said.
"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," she added.