Amitabh’s letter to his granddaughters is not as amazing as it seems

 That Amitabh Bachchan letter that everyone’s been going a bit nuts over? Yeah, no. We didn’t think it was that great. At least, I don’t.

 

A sexist, patriarchal letter that does the exact thing that its contents warns against. It begins with Mr Bachchan referring to legacy that his granddaughters carry – Aaradhya carries Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s and Navya Naveli carries the Nanda name. This conveniently ignores the legacy Aaradhya’s mother brings on her own. Is fame the only greatness to be acknowledged? All the women in the family, Aaradhya’s and Navya’s grandmothers and great-grandmothers, who have quietly stood behind the men and the children in their family, while they achieved great things, ignored in one swell swoop of “pardada’s legacy.”

 

Women put in countless hours of work and emotional energy to maintain families that will fall apart if they decide not to continue doing so. Men are able to steep themselves in literary pursuits or theatrical excellence because women bear the brunt of this ambition for greatness. It is women who have stayed back and made it possible for me to spend all that time outside the home seeking greatness. To discount that by saying two young girls of today carry their paternal grandfathers’ legacy is a message rife with chauvinism and misogyny.

 

And if he felt like he wanted in on the current global conversation about women and equality, maybe he should have started by apologising for having his daughter-in-law marry a tree and then taken it from there. You’re 73 years old, Mr Bachchan. You’ve lived one of the most tumultuous lives the Hindi film industry has seen, you still continue to work, and hardly anyone has anything but wonderful things to say about you (I should know, I am a big fan). Your life should have brought to you a wealth of observation, a sea of wisdom that your granddaughters may not have found elsewhere. Oh, only if my grandfathers had thought to write me a letter! The many, many things I would ask them, the things I would want to know so that I could go out and live in the world unafraid, so that I could go out and conquer all my dreams. But no, you chose to say trite things that I am pretty sure their parents are already teaching them.

 If he’d written this in private, no one would have cared, right? But making it public means he has a responsibility to the rest of us women, in whose support he ostensibly writes something powerful and authentic to his granddaughters, to be an example to many grandfathers who might rethink their attitudes.

 

Oh well, I think it’s time to end the idea of open letters because all they do is make our personal gods fall.

 

The full text of the letter, in case you missed it. (As published by Times of India)

 

You both carry a very valuable legacy on your tender shoulders – Aaradhya, the legacy of your pardadaji , Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan…and Navya, the legacy of your pardadaji , Shri H P Nanda….

Both your pardadaji’s gave your present surnames celebrated fame, dignity and recognition!

Both of you may be a Nanda or a Bachchan, but you are also girls…women!

And because you are women people will force their thinking, their boundaries on you.

They will tell you how to dress, how to behave, who you can meet and where you can go.

Don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgement. Make your own choices in the light of your own wisdom.

Don’t let anyone make you believe that the length of your skirt is a measure of your character.

Don’t let anyone’s opinion of who you should be friends with, dictate who you will be friends with.

Don’t get married for any other reason other than you want to get married.

People will talk. They shall say some terrible things. But that doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone. Never ever worry about – log kya kahenge

At the end of the day, you are the only one who will face the consequences of your actions, so don’t let other people make your decisions for you.

 

Navya – the privilege your name, your surname offers you, will not protect you from the difficulties you will face because you’re a woman.

 

Aaradhya – by the time you see and understand this, I may well not be around. But I think what I am saying today shall still be relevant.

 

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