Veteran Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan is a proud grandfather. And that’s a role he takes very seriously.
Bachchan is known to be something of a wordsmith and blogs and tweets regularly on most current topics, and his writings usually have a deep emotional appeal. This time, he’s given his writing a more personal touch by addressing an open letter to his granddaughters, Aaradhya Bachchan and Navya Naveli – and through them, to all the granddaughters in the world. The letter, in a warm and heartfelt manner, encourages them to be strong women and not to be swayed by log kya kahenge (what will people say). Society’s lopsided norms and judgments, Bachchan tells his granddaughters, oughtn’t to get in their way.
T 2369 – I write … a letter .. because I wanted to .. !! pic.twitter.com/l2xUPf1TBa
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) September 4, 2016
Written on 4 September, “Make your own choices in the light of your own wisdom,” the letter tells them.
Bachchan is aware of the unfairness in the society that in spite of the rise in sexual violence against women, still judges a woman on ‘the length of her skirt’. He feels sad that women are still unable to speak their minds in this century. But he’d be honoured, he says, if his granddaughters can help correct this unjust situation. Then, to be known as the grandfather of Aaradhya and Navya is something he’d cherish more than being a ‘superstar’.
Here’s the entire letter:
My very dearest Navya & Aaradhya
You both carry a very valuable legacy on your tender shoulders – Aaradhya, the legacy of your पर दादाजी, Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan…and Navya, the legacy of your पर दादाजी, Shri H P Nanda….
Both your पर दादाजी’s gave your present surnames celebrated fame, dignity and recognition !
Both of you maybe 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 – लोग क्या कहेंगे !
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
Bachchan’s upcoming film Pink is said to explore a similar theme – of unjust sexual norms and ideas on morality – where he plays a defense lawyer struggling with bipolar disorder, and representing three women who have been sexually assaulted.
Interestingly, Bachchan in a recent interview said that it is not a film on rape or women empowerment, before adding why treating women equally is the need of the hour. “Please look upon them not with sympathy, not even with any kind of compassion, they don’t need that. They just need to realise their strength. We bind them with a lot of chains and they need to melt those chains and make it their weapons in a sense and that’s what this film is about,” he said.