Last year, 22 movie stars, including Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan, walked the ramp at the Mijwan Sonnets In Fabric fashion show. This year, the fund raiser for the Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS) founded by Kaifi Azmi has 24 actors lending their support to the NGO’s efforts towards empowering the girl child in rural India.
The glitterati present at Mumbai’s Trident BKC on January 23 will include Hrithik Roshan, Ranbir Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar, Sushmita Sen, Shilpa Shetty, Lara Dutta, Karan Johar and Tusshar Kapoor. The Band Baaja Baraat
duo of Anushka Sharma and Ranveer Singh have been roped in, along with Amrita Rao, Sameera Reddy, Neha Dhupia, Celina Jaitley and Dia Mirza. Prateik, Kunal Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandes, Monikangana, Aditya Roy Kapur, Raima Sen, Rohit Roy, Sandhya Mridul and Shazahn Padamsee round up the celeb brigade who will be wearing Manish Malhotra’s designs.
Yesterday, Malhotra flew with Azmi to her father’s native village. The designer has adopted Mijwan for a year and the work he gives its chikankari
workers will ensure they don’t need to migrate to the cities. “The 240 girls at the local school will be hosting a fashion show for Manish today,” says Azmi. “After working with Anita Dongre last year and now with Manish, they may be able to showcase their designs soon.”
The NGO has set up a high school, a girl’s college, a computer centre and a sewing and embroidery centre in Mijwan. “There was a time when abba
and I saw 12 year olds running around with sindoor
(vermilion) in their maang
(hair parting). We tried to counsel their parents against child marriage with little success,” says Azmi.
Last year, some girls stepped out of the village for the first time to attend a national-level competition in Jaipur and bagged the first prize for their anti-dowry play. “The trophy, they pointed out, had proved their worth to their parents and they could now refuse to marry before 18,” says Azmi. “It’s heartening to hear them talk about wanting to become super models and computer hardware engineers today.”
She has an ally in Ranbir Kapoor, who was brought on board last April, by youth president of MWS, Namrata Goyal. “My mother (Shaukat Kaifi) was moved when Ranbir came home. For her, he’s the grandson of Prithviraj Kapoor for whose Prithvi theatre she would leave home every morning with four-month-old me strapped to her back. His parents, Rishi and Neetu, are my dear friends and the connections extend over four generations,” she marvels.
Hrithik Roshan’s grandfather, composer Roshan worked with Kaifi saab, his father, Rakesh Roshan, was a college friend of Azmi’s and he’s filming Zindagi Na Mile Dobara
with her stepdaughter Zoya Akhtar. “With both boys what struck a chord was that
R 6,000 could provide a girl with a whole year’s education,” says Azmi. “Both will be a part of the show to commemorate ‘abba’s’ 86th birth anniversary on January 14.”
Ranbir’s also committed to visiting Mijwan, perhaps in April, before school closes for vacation. His sister and he were raised without gender discrimination. “If anything, Riddhima got a better deal because she was the elder child and a girl. Young people need to turn their attention towards rural India where 80 per cent of our population lives and focus on empowering the girl child,” Ranbir asserts