A tribute to women who dare to be different

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On the celebratory occasion of International Women’s Day, let us offer a salute to those women who chose to be different either by raiding the male-bastion or standing out from the herd by contributing to the society, doing their small bit.

Take for instance Mumbai’s only mother-daughter duo restaurateurs, Sadhna Romy and Sheen Lalwani’s case. Both have decried the showpiece tag, usually associated with glamorous women. Well, when brains combine with beauty, magic certainly happens. Having ventured into the F&B (food and beverage) business sector, Sadhna has struck a perfect balance between her career and the domestic domain. Set up in 2003 by her late husband Romy, who had originally conceptualised and floated the Hawaiian Shack, Sadhna picked up the reins immediately after his demise only to learn the tricks of the trade and run the show single-handedly for over a decade now.
The night-club flashing neon-signs finely shines as a hip-spot in the party-circuit and is quite a frequent haunt for all nocturnal birds. But the journey hasn’t been a cakewalk for the helmer at all. “Like Rome wasn’t built in a day, this too was a tough call for me initially. I would literally balk at the very thought of taking the plunge. But then when you are in water you gotta know how to swim. I accepted the challenge and endeavoured to retain our loyal clientele-base, added newer crowds to the swish-set and also carved a clear niche for the Hawaiian Shack,” said the satisfied pub-owner.
Bengali movie-star and MLA Debashree Roy has a second entity to her name. She is one of those “compassionate crusaders” who love furry buddies and never hesitate to fight for their cause. The launch of Debashree Roy Foundation in Kolkata which is a non-profit organisation had come up with a project to vaccinate and sterilise stray dogs on the streets, only a few years back.
“We as humans always shower immense love and affection over our family and children. But what about those unattended pooches groaning in pain down on the road! Do we even care to take a look at those helpless, mute creatures?” shoots back the staunch animal-lover. Spearheading a series of campaigns and awareness drives to spread the word around among ordinary citizens, Ms Roy through her benevolent foundation pools in a star-studded support and solidarity from the cultural fraternity.
“Someday in the near future, I’d like to set up a comfortable home for cats and puppies in distress and address their basic needs,” she announces.
Dance is a way of life for artiste-choreographer Alokananda Roy, who is also a Samaritan in her own special way. Her dance academy Chandanaloke was opened up in the culture capital with a core objective to instil dancing skills and develop more world-class level performers. Over the years, Ms Roy has ceaselessly worked towards rehabilitating prison inmates and convicts in the mainstream of life. Her miraculous efforts via dance and cultural therapy bore positive results at the Presidency Correctional Home (Alipur Jail at Kolkata). “I treat the jail-inmates as victims of vices and adverse socio-economic circumstances. And being a mother myself, I can easily spot the hidden potentiality in their eyes and behavioural patterns for a possible transformation, when they are put under a therapeutic course,” she assures. As Hindu mythology chronicles that once the bandit Ratnakar was metamorphosed into sage Valmiki, similarly several “errant persons must get an opportunity to rectify their wrongdoings and return to normalcy for leading a healthy, responsible life,” she draws an analogy. Taking cues from her culled path, we can only pray that “let’s keep the do-gooder spirit alive within each and everyone of us.”
Ace car rallyist Renuka Kriplani is a seasoned hat behind the steering wheels on the Indian racing tracks. A self-indulgent speedster, Ms Kriplani smoothly shifts gears between a rallyist and a navigator, who guides and travels alongside the racer enroute his/her destination. The dynamic Mumbaiker inherited her frantic craze for car-racing from her father Chubi Lalwani, who himself was a professional rallyist. “I remember having participated in his workshops, where the nitty-gritties of accuracy in racing, tuning of engines and speed-maintenance were imparted to enable the rookies hone their craft before hitting the highway,” she recollects. In the beginning, her enriching experience drove her all across the national terrain, crossing many a mile right from Delhi, Mumbai to down South in Coimbatore. “I guess, it must have been a long distance of 1,800-3,000 kms, approximately,” she informs.
Proficient painter Eleena Banik has recently delineated a portrait of a tormented woman, in the wake of rising violence against women. “Art is both a medium of expression and an avenue to voice my protest against increasing atrocities inflicted upon women. Be it the brutal gangrape of a paramedic student in Delhi on a moving bus or the shocking murder of a brick-kiln woman labourer in the Barasat district of West Bengal, the perpetration of such heinous crimes against women has brought the mass outrage pouring on the streets from all across India,” she comments, joining the one-billion rising phenomenon.
In the meantime, before the artist lifts up her paintbrush to unleash spring colours from her palette over her canvas, she uses its sharp bristles to lodge her rant and resentment against torture, sexual-harassment, oppressive gender-biases and injustice meted out to the so-called weaker sex.

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