Amitabh Bachchan’s letter to grand daughters: Hard hitting message vs ingrained pessimism

The world is a stage, Shakespeare said. Social media is the beacon where moderate view is a tale of  traversing the alpine, mountains, and icy lake to seek truth and God to fail miserably. Pessimism and negativity are our swan song. After all, a celebrity is our whipping horse and we won’t shy in beating him to death or, for that matter, wouldn’t flinch in hanging him in public glare.  Meet the new us on social media, the tolerantly intolerant.

Yes! We will never shy in attributing motives to what a celebrity does or says and we will link everything to a timely publicity stunt on the eve of his next offing. It makes me shudder on why the fuck we cannot draw in the positive or thought-provoking video message or letter. Of course, we will harp on the most negative aspect and take a slice of the pound imagining the star to be Antonio and we are the new age Shylock in Merchant of Venice.

It all started with a heart-wrenching, thought-provoking, and endearing letter that Amitabh Bachchan wrote to his grand-daughters, Navya Naveli and Aradhya. It was enough to pull a trigger and send social media into a tizzy. The funny thing is that people suddenly started to have a problem, making it a personal slugfest on why Bachchan Senior referred to the legacy of Dr Harivansh Rai Bachchan and grandfather of Navya Naveli, Shri H P Nanda.  Read the letter here.

First thing first, the letter makes utmost sense to me in an age where women are scorned upon and their personal choices, be it the right to wear a short skirt, partying at night is being questioned by our patriarchal society. We never shy in making all sort of comments and the word, slut, is spat like ball of fire. There is not a single instance where a girl or women is not being assaulted or raped. It’s being justified by muck heads. ‘She asked for it. Who asked her to roam at night or kissing?’

Amitabh Bachchan chose to speak in one voice to his grand-daughters on boundaries that will be set on women’s skirt, marriage and log kya kahenge mindset. Isn’t it true? The way we look at unmarried women and all kind of dirty thoughts that rages in our mind why a woman is not married. We have heard so many disparaging comments on women. Isn’t it the same feminists who ‘rightly so’ turned against the patriarchal mindset and are now hitting at Amitabh Bachchan for the letter written to his grand-daughter?

It is something that finds echo not just with the women in the Bachchan household or in India but it’s across the world and it gets worse in the so-called developed or western world that we are so gung-ho about or heap praises on.  For instance, Navya Naveli, the granddaughter of Amitabh Bachchan is not a public personality but is a young girl doing things every young person of her age does, whether it’s partying or hanging around with her friends.  Yet, the ugly social media folks have already painted and humiliated her on her personal choice. It sucks to the core. As a grandfather, it’s his right to hit at such cheap, frivolous and herd mentality.

Amitabh Bachchan letter/

After all, it holds true not just for the young lady and Baby Aradhya but for every woman in this country or elsewhere. Why are people angry? Because he wrote a personal letter to his granddaughters? They allude that it’s a publicity stunt on the eve of the release of his upcoming Pink. It’s   ridiculous. I think we are all missing an important point here.

What if I decide to write a similar letter and air my thoughts on some issues that I feel strongly about. It may not and will not have the powerful impact that an Amitabh Bachchan makes. He has made a very valid point when we see the sorry state of affairs where women are treated like second class citizens. It’s very easy to be armchair activists and alluding why he didn’t refer to his daughter, wife or Aishwarya Bachchan’s mother. Now, we are questioning his choice and insisting that he should think in a particular fashion.

It’s the social media. We write blogs pitching for change and effort to make the world a better place where caste or gender-based discrimination should be something of the past. Everything that we write will be subjected to close scrutiny, praised or thrown brickbats at. If we assume that what Amitabh Bachchan did was a publicity stint, then everything we write, share or Tweet on Facebook is done with the sole and ulterior motive of garnering huge number of hits. Last time, I was part of a noble campaign on menstruation and perhaps I wrote it for publicity. Don’t you think so!

Amitabh Bachchan has written an open letter to his grand-daughters. I think it’s something personal and we have no right to question his equation with young members of his family.  After all, what’s wrong in making the letter public? I ask you! We live in a democracy where we have every right to air our dissenting views about any issue, be it national interest or otherwise.

There are letters and posts doing the rounds on why there is no mention of women legacy. I don’t question the views of people. I have always opposed patriarchy in all its forms and don’t get me wrong. It’s not about Amitabh Bachchan. It’s about freedom where women don’t have an easy life and people at every juncture will not let her be who she is and keep harping that she is a woman. She should be restricted in her boundary. The letter addresses such issues that are being discussed at length and not the skirt’s length.

The letter is not perfect. Amitabh Bachchan is a human being. He has shortcomings like every one of us and his thoughts are not infallible. Perhaps, he should have referred to Jaya-ji, Shweta Nanda or Aishwarya Rai parents and their influence but he didn’t. Are we going to crucify or put him on a cross for that? He has every right as a citizen of this country to voice his concerns.

Blame it on the capitalist mindset and high-class hegemony or plain intellectual monopoly of thought that we are afflicted with. I ask a simple question to men and women who feel personally offended by this letter: How many of you will stand up for a girl who incurs the wrath of ugly social misconstrued thought, facing discrimination in the household or forced to marry someone to bring status to the family?  If you can stand up against harassment of a girl and make a powerful pitch, then talk! We have every right to disagree but don’t put someone down because he wrote a powerful letter or attribute motive to him or her.

Let’s stop being negative to everything. I think as mature individuals that form part of a society, we should take the positive message echoed in the letter written by Mr Amitabh Bachchan and be part of the change. Unfortunately, we have chosen to focus by drawing inference not on the good or hard-hitting message but seeped in negativity. The letter shouldn’t lose its purpose. Yes, Amitabh Bachchan is not telling you what you should or shouldn’t do.






  1. Nice post Vishal…I loved the combo…tolerantly intolerant…..and the point that AB didn’t mention the women folk of his own home…that itself is a proof of his spontaneity in having written that letter without any research or ulterior motive of impressing anyone….and I agree why make a mountain out of a molehill….

  2. That’s the thing with social media. They have every opinion in the world to find fault with everything. I read the letter and I found it completely fine. And I am not supporting patriarchy in any case, but all I am saying is the man wanted to say certain things to his grand-daughters, and he wrote it all on pen. If he wouldn’t be liberal enough, he would have talked about the legacy to his grandsons and not granddaughters. When a woman gets married, she belongs to that family and that is how it functions in our country. I don’t know if it is right or wrong, but sure she tries to maintain everything with full dignity. By doing something wrong, isn’t she affecting her father’s family name along with her husband’s family name?
    It works both ways, but people, they have to find negative points that happen around us all the time!

    An extremely well-crafted article it is Vishal. I take a bow for this one!


    • Thanks Geeta. We get so intolerant and like you, my thought is not to attract hits or support patriarchy which I have always opposed. As I said, the aim of a public letter is to make an impact on our society. Sadly so, a woman marries a family which is also a negative mindset. I mean, why do we impose? Despite everything, the woman ensures that the family us held in good stead. Appreciate your honest views. Lets’ declutter ourselves from negativity.

  3. I can’t imagine people started finding so much negativity in such a beautiful letter.
    I loved the letter. It was so beautifully written and I don’t think it was for the release of PINK. It was a gesture of a grandfather towards his granddaughters.
    This world is becoming an abode of hatred and criticism.
    A great post, Vishal.

  4. I heard it over the radio here. I was not much pleased with this mention of grandfather and all.

    Women play an important role in everybody’s life, so he should have credited his wife, grandmother, and more importantly women’s side of the family too! Such an important figure talking only about men shows how bias is deep-rooted in our culture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s