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  Entertainment   In Other News  07 Mar 2017  Not without my daughter

Not without my daughter

Published : Mar 7, 2017, 12:03 am IST
Updated : Mar 7, 2017, 6:30 am IST

Small as they may be, Bollywood’s token gestures are helping make a big statement for gender equality.

A still from Aamir’s ad
 A still from Aamir’s ad

With a heavyweight star like Amitabh Bachchan announcing that he wishes to split his assets equally between his son and daughter after he’s gone, the issue of equal property distribution has come under the scanner. In a country like India, it is not uncommon for ancestral property or assets to go to the male heir, as opposed to it being distributed equally among the children in the family. Besides Bachchan, who is leading by example, more celebrities are coming out and lending their support to the cause of treating men and women equally.

Take for example, Aamir Khan. In December, the actor delivered what is one of Bollywood’s biggest hits, Dangal, which propagated the empowerment of the girl child, especially with his now-famous dialogue, “Mhari choriyan choron se kam hai ke? (Are my girls any less than boys?)” Now, the actor has become the face of a Hindi channel’s social advertisement, that shows him in an extension of his Dangal character, showering praises on his two daughters, who help him run his business.

Theatre personality Zubin Driver says that while ads like Aamir’s and announcements like Big B’s are a good move, it should merely be the first step towards bigger change. “I think anything positive works; I’m not a cynic,” he says. “Having said that, it can’t be just that. This has to be backed up with grassroots activism and it has to be backed up by change in law. Many things work together to engineer change in society. It’s not just about doing PR and getting ads out. As long as there is much more activity happening, then change happens. I believe all activity is positive but many more things need to happen to work together and engineer change.”

Ad man Prahlad Kakkar too agrees that the law needs to be looked at, to enable equality when it comes to handing down ancestral property. “I think it’s high time the law did something about giving women equal rights to the ancestral property. Several parts of Nagaland, Kerala and Meghalaya already practise a matriarchal society where the rights are handed down to the women of the family. While this maybe a little too far-fetched, I hope women are given equal importance in property matters. After all, if people are giving reservations based on their caste for jobs, why should women not have access to property that is theirs? I think we have marginalised women for way too long,” he points out.

Even as debate around how to take equal property rights rages on, Bollywood personalities have come out to laud Big B’s move. “I fully agree with Mr Bachchan,” says filmmaker Rakesh Roshan, who himself has a son and a daughter — Hrithik and Sunaina. “The parents’ wealth must be divided equally between the son and the daughter.” Asserting that girls and boys in their family are treated the same, director duo Abbas and Mustan say, “One thing that needs to be accepted in today’s time is that boys and girls need to be treated alike and be given equal rights in every aspect of their lives, irrespective of their gender.” Explaining that it’s women who lead the family most times, Prerna Arora, who spearheads production house Kriarj Entertainment, says it’s only fair to give them their share. “I think times have changed and it’s about time we give equal property rights to women as well. In fact, most times you’ll see it’s the girl child who takes care of parents,” says Prerna, who took over from her father, Virendra Arora. “Personally, I don’t know how much impact it can make, but even if a handful of Mr Bachchan’s followers change their mind after reading his tweet, it will make a lot of difference.”

Adds Prahlad, “Stardom does make an impact (in such issues) to some extent towards taking a positive step. However, I think it’s a little too late for Bollywood to sit up and take notice. Once they see a change being reflected in society, Bollywood wants to do a me-too.”

Tags: amitabh bachchan, aamir khan, dangal, rakesh roshan, equally, gender equality