Shabana Azmi links women empowerment with upbringing of boys, redefines ‘mardangi’

Hindustan Times, Delhi | | Edited by Zarafshan Shiraz
Jan 03, 2021 11:54 AM IST

Challenging the myths of masculinity, Shabana Azmi talks about empowerment of women and shares how offshoots of sexism against women can be driven away. Read on

Drawing attention to the issue of female foeticide with her Netflix horror film, Kaali Khuhi, veteran star Shabana Azmi was also a part of 2020’s much-acclaimed feminist OTT movie, Mee Raqsam that was an ode to the strong bond between a father and his daughter. While co-producing Mee Raqsam with brother Baba Azmi was a tribute to their father-poet Kaifi Azmi, Shabana’s clutter-breaking approach to OTT content was widely appreciated for making a strong case for women empowerment.

Shabana Azmi redefines ‘mardangi’ while talking about women empowerment(Instagram/azmishabana18)
Shabana Azmi redefines ‘mardangi’ while talking about women empowerment(Instagram/azmishabana18)

In a recent interview with Harper’s Bazaar India, the 70-year-old actor challenged the myths of masculinity and redefined “mardangi”. She shared, “The empowerment of women depends on how we raise our boys. Have we questioned why masculinity is always about power and strength, about mardangi (manhood)? Why is mardangi also not about compassion and consideration?”

Having linked women empowerment with the upbringing of boys in the society, Shabana added, “Unless we, as a society, start raising our sons differently, all these offshoots of sexism against women—regarding their looks and the derogatory terms that are used for them—will not go away.”

Terrie Samundra’s Netflix original film, Kaali Khuhi, intrinsically portrays misogyny and aided in dismantling the patriarchal hegemony. The Shabana Azmi and Riva Arora starrer brought to the table, conversations that are often brushed under the carpet in Indian households.

While upholding misogynistic values by women through practice or in the name of tradition is no secret, the film served a horror plot while simultaneously exposing viewers to the world of patriarchal conditioning of the females. As for Mee Raqsam, the light-hearted film weaves a progressive tale that showed a precious bond between a loving father who stands up for his daughter and her passion for dance.

Both of these from Shabana Azmi’s kitty are two feminist OTT shows of 2020 that are definitely worth your time if you haven’t wrapped them up already.

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