Did you know when Kareena Kapoor Khan decided to shift into a live-in set up with her now husband Saif Ali Khan, her family was a little taken aback? Or that Sania Mirza defeated a sixteen-year old tennis player when she was barely nine years old? Or that Mary Kom’s father didn’t want her to do boxing because he thought no one will marry her?
There is this and a lot more in Gunjan Jain’s latest book.It’s been a year of glowing victories for women- be it Sakshi Malik winning at wrestling, or PV Sindhu bringing a silver lining home. In this spirit of womanhood, author Gunjan Jain’s book ‘She walks, She leads’, published by Penguin Random House India, profiles 24 women who have inspired India in different ways. She says, “I wanted this book to be a celebration of womanhood- the stories of women who are warriors, who have overcome barriers of patriarchy. When a woman is at the top of her career, we applaud and praise her. Well, I wanted to tell the story of how they got there.”
It was quite an elaborate job to shortlist these women. Jain researched around 200 accomplished women who inspired her, and did not let age or profession stand in her way. “These were people who stood out in their respective professions: entrepreneurs, writers, artists, or bankers. I asked myself two questions during the process. One, how has she contributed to change in the social context. And two, how can a reader learn from this woman what cannot be learnt from anyone else in her field?” says Jain.
The book has quite an interesting anthology format. After giving a substantial background of each woman, Jain has focused on other lesser-known anecdotes about each woman which the public might not be aware of and kept it under different sub-headings. Apart from close family interviews, she has supplemented each story by conversations with more than hundred leading personalities.
Jain does not make any personal judgment about anyone. “I’ve just scripted their profiles. I wanted these stories to resonate with the readers. I wanted them (readers) to envision their own lives after reading this. Women who are struggling and are fighting battles every day, should find their role model in this book.”
Indeed, while many might airily ignore the women from the film industry as achievers- Jain has ventured into the field and found women such as veteran actor Shabana Azmi, director Mira Nair, and actors Priyanka Chopra and
Kareena Kapoor Khan. With reference to Priyanka and Kareena she says, “They’re two fantastic women. They’re such contrasts to each other- but their struggles are the same. Priyanka is a global superstar now, and has made a name for herself on an international level. She wanted no boundaries. But that does not mean Kareena is any less. Despite her illustrious last name, her path to glory has not been easy either- and now look where she is. What each of them has done for themselves cannot be compared.”