Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Thank You For The Platitudes, Mr. Bachchan!



I want to begin by saying how much I have admired Amitabh Bachchan as an actor and is probably the only hero I want to meet in real life. Apart from his acting prowess, another thing that has always drawn me to him is his command over languages and the power of enunciation in his narration. 

But this adulation for him suffered a sizeable dent when I read his letter to his grand daughters - which he says is a must read for all girls. I've started writing this post in auto pilot once I saw the video version of since I have to get this out here. 

First of all, thank you sir, for the platitudes you have offered as advice to your children with the belief that it is going to be helpful to them. And then going ahead with so many contradictions that I am sure confused about what to follow in the letter. Although Mr. Bachchan says that his girls should make their own decisions and be people in their own right, he starts by drooping their shoulders with the load family honour! He tells them not to be bound by boundaries others set for them but begins by setting quite a decisive one himself! How is it liberating for any woman to be burdened by family honour? Why isn't the same letter written to the sons of the family recommending responsible behaviour to them? Isn't every woman in this country already burdened enough with family, societal, marital (among others) pressures to behave in a certain way? He does the same with his grand daughters by telling them outright that their behaviour reflects on the rich legacy they inherit. 

The rest of his advice seems like a list from a bad gender rule book that women threw out decades ago. Women have already fought the barriers of hierarchy and shattered them in a lot of ways. We know and no longer accept that the length of our skirts is a measure of our characters. (This could be the most cliche anyone can get!) Although he says it's a "difficult" world for a woman, rest assured that the family name his girls carry will indeed protect them from a lot of atrocities that common women struggle through.  

Everyone knows that the Bachchan family is a repository of traditional values even in today's times. It's the Bachchan legacy at play here too. How about starting women's liberation movement right from his house! How about letting his own daughter in law choose and decide if she'd like to have a home of her own that isn't run by others' rule? She is someone's daughter and she also must have been taught to speak her mind and not give in to others' boundaries. How about that? And he completely left out the mothers of these daughters and the legacy and brought up that they bring to the table. This just reflects on how hard the women in his own household will have to struggle to be considered people worthy of mention. 

I highly doubt that his advice will be relevant when Aradhya is old enough to understand all this. She will be a woman in a much better world. A world where women have paid to achieve unprecedented levels of equality. Not that Navya or Aradhya will ever ever have to fight for their place in society or the world at large. The very legacy that binds them is also liberating is a strange way. 

And in the end I want to say that women have had enough of people telling us what to to, how to behave, what to wear and what is at stake if we don't follow those rules. It is saddening and disappointing when such advice comes from a popular figure like Mr. Bachchan who has a fan following across the world and is held in high regard. 

Here is the text of the letter as published in The Times of India:

My very dearest Navya & Aaradhya
You both carry a very valuable legacy on your tender shoulders – Aaradhya, the legacy of your pardadaji , Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan…and Navya, the legacy of your pardadaji , Shri H P Nanda….
Both your pardadaji ‘ s gave your present surnames celebrated fame, dignity and recognition !
Both of you may be a Nanda or a Bachchan, but you are also girls…women !
And because you are women people will force their thinking, their boundaries on you.
They will tell you how to dress, how to behave, who you can meet and where you can go.
Don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgement. Make your own choices in the light of your own wisdom.
Don’t let anyone make you believe that the length of your skirt is a measure of your character.
Don’t let anyone’s opinion of who you should be friends with, dictate who you will be friends with.
Don’t get married for any other reason other than you want to get married.
People will talk. They shall say some terrible things. But that doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone. Never ever worry about – log kya kahenge.
At the end of the day, you are the only one who will face the consequences of your actions, so don’t let other people make your decisions for you.
Navya – the privilege your name, your surname offers you, will not protect you from the difficulties you will face because you’re a woman.
Aaradhya – by the time you see and understand this, I may well not be around. But I think what I am saying today shall still be relevant.
This may be a difficult, difficult world to be a woman. But I believe that it is women like you that will change that.
It may not be easy, setting your own boundaries, making your own choices, rising above people ‘s
judgement. But YOU !…you can set an example for women everywhere.
Do this and you would have done more than I have ever done, and it will be my honor to be known not as Amitabh Bachchan, but as your grandfather !!
With all my love
Your ….Dadaji ….your Nana.

5 comments:

  1. Didn't read his letter, don't want to either. Especially from a man whose daughter was married off at a early age and has never worked for a living and a wife who left her career to take care of the kids.

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    1. Hey Purba! Thanks so much for commenting on my post! Also, that's the biggest irony! He is talking about freedom and individuality for women that was never followed in his own house!

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  2. Agree!! The Irony! Right?
    I do not understand why and someone could be this big a hypocrite. Showbiz, I guess!



    xoxo - Chaicy
    Style.. A Pastiche - styleapastiche.com

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  3. Ha ha Suman - bang on! I wrote this : http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/live-life-queensize-with-mumbai-mom/article/the-problem-with-amitabh-s-letter-to-his-granddaughters And received SO much flak - and it was quite hilarious because people were calling me out for being a woman who made her own choices and set her own boundaries *wink wink* Log toh kahte hee rahte hain, Bachchan Saab!

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    1. Thanks for reading, Nidhi! I'm reading your post right away! :)

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