Girl power was saluted at the Gr8! Women Awards in Dubai on Thursday as stars including Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe and Bollywood stars Rani Mukherjee and Karisma Kapoor rubbed shoulders with real-life heroes. But you could never tell that they belonged to very different worlds as they maintained a united stand throughout the evening.
“We feel empowered by each other’s success. I want to dedicate this award not just to the successful women out there, but to the abused women too,” said Wehbe as she collected her Gr8! Women Award trophy for Most Popular Singer.
The annual awards night, instituted by the Indian Television Academy, was a nod to all the women achievers in the fields of arts, commerce, sports, science and entrepreneurship.
Upon public demand, the Lebanese star clad in a sheer lace gown even sang (or should we say seductively purred) a few lines on stage.
Indian actress Mukherjee, who was last seen in Aamir Khan’s thriller “Talaash”, utilised the platform to roll out a veiled threat.
“Thank you for loving me all these years, but I am not going anywhere,” Mukherjee said in her acceptance speech.
The spirited actress promised to up her game.
“This award is not just an award, it’s an indication of the love showered upon me. In front of all these women, my contribution is very miniscule and I hope in future I can do better,” said Mukherjee.
Bollywood royalty Kapoor, clad in a black lace Dolce & Gabbana cocktail gown, told women to be comfortable in their own skin.
“Never succumb to the pressures like ‘be thin or lose weight’. Be true to yourself and just love who you are. Always do things at your pace,” said Kapoor, a mother-of-two, on the red carpet.
The awards night also stuck to the tradition of rolling out song and dance spectacles in between honouring women from all walks of life such as Yemeni crusaders Shada Naseer and Nujood Ali.
On stage was fading siren Urmila Matondkar who treated the audience to a medley of old and new Bollywood hits featuring Bollywood’s prominent leading ladies. From Kishore Kumar’s romantic numbers to Rekha’s iconic songs, Matondkar had the ground covered.
Here are some snippets from the action on the red carpet:
Q: What brings you the Gr8! Women Awards?
A: I never miss an opportunity to attend an event that celebrates women. I am honoured that I am sharing the platform with some great women achievers who are being recognised. I feel special because this award is not just any award, it’s an indicator that they think that I am suitable for such a prestigious honour. There is a lot of love being showered upon me tonight.
Q: You have acted in several women-oriented films. Do you have a favourite character?
A: My role in Black as Michelle McNally. The determination that Michelle cultivated was admirable. It’s place in my heart grows when I realise that the magic I created on screen with Michelle will remain a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Director Sanjay [Leela Bhansali] and I have often spoken about re-creating such magic all over again. We both realised that it was difficult. I don’t think I will be able to play that role again.
Q: What’s your one tip to all the women out there?
A: If you want change, then women should stand up for themselves. Also, men should learn to change the way they think and the way they respect the other gender. I always feel that women are not given justice because they often doesn’t stand up against it. Remember, we have it in us to bring change.
Q: How does it feel to be honoured with the Gr8! Women Awards?
A: It’s wonderful to be acknowledged. It’s a special night not just for me but for women all over the world. As you know, we are celebrating 100 years of cinema and I come from a film dynasty so such awards are a great form of encouragement.
Q: What makes you worthy of this award?
A: Gosh, I wish I knew. My fans may be able to answer this question better. I always love coming to Dubai. To receive this award here feels good.
Q: Who’s your biggest role model among women?
A: My mother.
Q: In the world of showbiz, who’s your biggest icon?
A: There are so many women in cinema who have inspired me. From actress Nutan to Waheedaji [Rahman], I have always loved them and looked up to them. They brought grace into films.
Q: There’s a debate raging in India about cinema objectifying women and triggering violence against them. What’s your take?
A: Cinema is responsible for showing many things. I don’t think it’s fair to hold cinema responsible for all of it. All I want to say is that the kind of roles and films that female actors are being offered today is strong and that’s a sign of good things to come.
Q: Recently, you took up a role as a radio jockey. How was it to be on the other side of the red carpet?
A: I loved it because I connected with people all over the country. They call in, chat with me and I have a great time interacting with them.
Q: What’s the best advise you can give to women?
A: Be true to yourself and believe in yourself. Don’t succumb to the pressures around you.
Q: If there’s one tip that you would tell your children, what would it be?
A: Good values. There are things we learn from our grandmothers and our mothers that we should instil in our children.
Q: When will we see you on the big screen again?
A: I am taking a break. But maybe, sometime next year.
Q: What makes you worthy of such an award?
A: I am an ordinary person who has been given such extraordinary chances in life. I have worked at it conscientiously.
Q: What advise would you give to people who pursue success?
A: Whatever is worth doing, do it well. That’s my bottom-line. Many girls come into the glamour industry and are attracted by its glitz. Anybody out there who wants to be in this industry, stay focused. Be easy to get along with and do your job well.
Q: You have fans the world over. Whom are you the biggest fan of?
A: Sridevi. I was always her biggest fan.