Today, the same page of the newspaper that ushers in father-daughter partnerships storming the world of business also heartbreakingly narrates stories of brothers smothering their sisters for being public figures, entitled boyfriends hacking their independent girlfriends over a refusal, and fathers murdering their daughters in the name of honour. In paradoxical times like these, a legendary actor and opinion leader who is also a concerned grandpa teaches every man how they need to raise the little girls of tomorrow.
In an open letter to his granddaughters from his daughter Shweta Bachchan, and son Abhishek Bachchan, the 73-year-old Amitabh Bachchan put pen to paper and concocted sheer wisdom on how his granddaughters, 18-year-old Navya Naveli and four-year-old Aaradhya, must live their lives.
Big B tells the girls what their lofty identities entail. He says that they are not only the torchbearers of respectable family names, but also the champions of a powerful yet belittled gender – that comes with a whole different set of challenges, and a constant army of conformists who will want to thrust their opinions and decisions on them – but Big B encourages them to be in charge of their lives at all times.
“This may be a difficult, difficult world to be a woman. But I believe that it is women like you that will change that,” he urges them.
Here is the full text of his letter:
My very dearest Navya & Aaradhya
You both carry a very valuable legacy on your tender shoulders - Aaradhya, the legacy of your Par Dadaji, Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan...and Navya, the legacy of your Par Dada , Shri H P Nanda....
Both your Par Dadajis' 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 - 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.
“Don't let anyone make you believe that the length of your skirt is a measure of your character,” he writes. It is an extraordinary thought to herald, as an opinion leader and influencer with a cult following even in India’s interiors, where a khap panchayat perhaps still deliberating upon whether to ban jeans and mobile phones for girls, may hear this and take heed to this refreshing new school of thought.
“Don't get married for any other reason other than you want to get married,” says the veteran – right away diffusing that ticking time bomb on a woman’s age and hence, “desirability”, and even sending a loud and clear message to patrons of the ideology that women are commodities that are better off married and domesticated to rear children, rather that educated and suited up, so they can rule the world.
Best of all, he asks his granddaughters never to fall into the “log kya kahenge trap.”
“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,” he wisely explains to them.
Not satisfied putting it down just in text, he also decided to perform a reading so that it is more personal and impactful. Addressing Aaradhya, he quips, “I don’t know when you will see it but this is how I looked in year 2016!” He further decided to share the video on Facebook and Twitter, reasoning that it is not just a letter meant for his granddaughters, but for “all granddaughters” out there.
The actor will next be seen in Pink, starring alongside greats like Taapsee Pannu. The film is a courtroom drama-thriller, also starring Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Piyush Mishra, Angad Bedi, Dhritiman Chatterjee in pivotal roles, set to hit the screens on September 16. It is a heartwrenching story of three young women fighting allegations of extortion from the men against whom they filed a sexual assault complaint.