Empathy is hardwired among Hyderabadis
An exclusive interaction with Shabana Azmi and Mahesh Bhatt is sure to evoke interest and curiosity. For, not only are the two celebrities articulate the theme for the interaction--films, women and social issues – are familiar terrain to both of them. Moreover, Shabana Azmi and Mahesh Bhatt were sharing the stage for the first time after they worked in the film
Contrasting events forced them to workfor social causes
City’s socialites got a unique opportunity to interact with ace director Mahesh Bhatt and veteran actor Shabana Azmi. The duo, who were sharing the dais for the first time in three decades after the movie ‘Arth’, delved upon the circumstances which drew them into working for social causes
An exclusive interaction with Shabana Azmi and Mahesh Bhatt is sure to evoke interest and curiosity. For, not only are the two celebrities articulate the theme for the interaction--films, women and social issues – are familiar terrain to both of them. Moreover, Shabana Azmi and Mahesh Bhatt were sharing the stage for the first time after they worked in the film ‘Arth’ three decades ago. This exclusive interaction was held at The Park on Sunday which was an event organised by COVA.
After the welcome address by Mazhar Hussain, executive director, COVA, the Koshish Theatre Group staged a short play ‘Praja Nahin, Nagrik Hain Hum,’ directed by Dr Gopi Krishna, which showed the power of the common man. A rather humorous take on the water scarcity, it focussed on corruption and educated about governance at the grassroots.
Mazhar Hussain was the moderator between Shabana Azmi and Mahesh Bhatt and the discussion focussed on issues like gender equality, inclusive thinking and partnership. The interaction began with the celebrities talking about how they got involved in social issues. Shabana said she was born in Hyderabad and that empathy and concern for fellow human beings was hardwired in her DNA.
She mentioned how she saw equality of women having a liberal enriching childhood and also how she shared the feeling for the underprivileged being the daughter of Kaifi Azmi and Shaukat. As an actor in the beginning, she never took interest in politics even though it was discussed at home. Her father knew the soil was fertile enough for the plant to take root. While showing the film ‘Arth’ to distributors Shabana said that the distributors wanted to change the ending but Mahesh and she were completely against it. In the end the movie went on to become a commercial health.
“Hordes of women, not as fans but as sisters, came to me to solve their marital problems. It was disconcerting. My image of the actor and the character was blurred. So it was an amalgamation of all these issues which led me to women’s issues.” On the contrary, Mahesh Bhatt said, “I had an unpleasant childhood after being brought up by a single parent who concealed her identity. I did not see equality operating in the house. There was a disconnect with what people spoke and what people did.”
The conversation veered to gender discrimination and internalisation of patriarchy at every level which education also reinforces. Here Shabana took the example of how a child is asked where the mother is and he/she answers “In the kitchen” and where the father is and he/she responds “At the office.”
The influence of movies on people and whether it strengthens stereotypes and mythology in movies was also taken up. The depiction/portrayal of women in films also came up as part of this (particularly objectifying women and item numbers and their effect on children). Here Shabana and Mahesh Bhatt emphasised on having an informed opinion. “Self regulation is the way to go,” they said reiterating that the business of entertainment was to generate profit. This interaction was followed by a Q & A with the audience. On the whole, it was an entertaining and enriching evening.